by Colin Campbell

NICOLA Sturgeon’s slip-up in taking off her face mask for a few minutes at a funeral produced gleeful tabloid headlines, although I suspect most people will this Christmas Eve be more than willing to cut her some slack.

Nicola Sturgeon…Brexit talks success blow.

So, she broke a rule amid the emotion of a funeral while talking to a few people. What’s the great fuss? We all know that trying to converse with these things on makes dialogue seem muffled and awkward. In the circumstances, the instinct to have an unmasked conversation could for virtually anyone be overwhelming.

What would be much more interesting would be to have seen the look on Nicola Sturgeon’s face when it became clear that Boris Johnson and the UK government had concluded a Brexit trade deal, after four long years of tortured negotiation with often malign European bureaucrats.

Her expression would not have been full of the joys of Christmas.

The outcome means one nationalist turkey in their campaign to break up Britain has been well and truly stuffed.

Sturgeon and the SNP were hoping, as always, for an outcome to the Brexit talks which would have inflicted maximum damage on the UK and on Scotland in particular. The ruination of businesses and subsequent loss of jobs would have been regarded by them as acceptable collateral damage along the rocky road to independence.

Well, a Brexit no-deal is one Christmas present they are not going to get.

A week ago it looked very much like that would be the outcome. But Boris Johnson’s unpredictable behaviour – whether calculated or not – was enough to convince the Europeans that he was indeed willing to walk away with a no-deal disaster and they responded accordingly.

Of course, the outcome will still be spun by Sturgeon and co as a disaster nevertheless, but much less convincingly so than they’d hoped.

Total Brexit chaos was to be their trump card as they head into their turn of the year campaign for the so called independence election for the Scottish Parliament in May. Now they’ve drawn the joker.

And anyone who thinks the current worsening pandemic is serving as a distraction from the nationalists’ primary goal is being naive.

On Radio Scotland on Tuesday morning Sturgeon’s deputy, Keith Brown, made that jarringly clear. His level of indyref2/independence belligerence would have been shocking to anyone expecting some grace, dignity and humanity from the topmost level of the SNP.

More virus infections? Independence is the answer. A more contagious strain of the virus? Independence is the answer. More strain on the NHS? Independence is the answer. Families and loved ones separated at Christmas? Separation – from the rest of the UK – is the answer.

And of course he lobbed in his feigned outrage over the prospect of a no-deal Brexit at every opportunity.

What a shame Mr Brown will now also be scowling into his Christmas Day soup.

So Nicola Sturgeon’s maskless slip-up is of no lasting consequence. But masked or otherwise, she will enjoy Boris Johnson’s national TV address on the Brexit outcome about as much as many nationalists relish the Christmas day broadcast by the Queen.


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