An Edinburgh Standoff

David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon sit down for the first time since the general election

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Today Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hosts newly re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron in Edinburgh for a showdown on further devolution that could set the tone for relations between Scotland and the rest of the UK during this parliament.

In the wake of the Conservatives’ smashing victory in England and the SNP’s triumph in Scotland, passions are running high. Yesterday a senior SNP source at Westminster (guess who?) told the Guardian the nationalist party could embark on a second independence referendum without Cameron’s permission if he refused demands to hold one again. The source also widened the list of potential triggers for another vote to include withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights.

The First Minister is likely to regard some of this sabre-rattling as unhelpful, and the intervention indicates the challenge she faces in balancing the aspirations of the SNP’s grassroots with the antipathy of Scottish voters to the idea of ‘neverendums’. However, the febrile atmosphere following the SNP’s landslide last week, coupled with the mess Scotland’s unionist parties now find themselves in, gives her some leverage in trying to win more powers for Holyrood. Ms Sturgeon still holds a formidable set of cards. 


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