Scottish nationalists cannot promise what they cannot deliver, and currently Nicola Sturgeon is doing just that. Scotland would be crippled if it left the UK, and the SNP seem willing to sacrifice their people for their own vanity project, Donald Forbes argues.

Nobody really cares that Nicola Sturgeon said the outcome of the 2014 referendum was valid for a generation. As promises go, it belongs with the NHS funding advert on London buses that Rejoiners still fume about pointlessly.

Sturgeon's pledge is a life raft to which Boris Johnson clings for the moment. But it means nothing to Nationalists who have seen three Tory governments take power with English votes since 2016. As late French President Jacques Chirac liked to say, "promises are binding only on those who believe them."

The main case against Indyref2 is that none of the questions Salmond and Sturgeon couldn't answer in 2014 about the drawbacks of independence have been answered since; the repercussions remain unchanged or are worse with the collapse of oil prices.

But this is wrong. However, Brexit which was not a factor in 2014, has emerged as a major issue. The SNP's plan to leave the UK and join the EU now means the likelihood of a hard border between Scotland and England for the first time since Hadrian built his wall.

This complicates things. It would mean the relationship between the two countries changing twice within a few years, once when independence happens and again when Scotland joins the EU.

In fact, provisionality would weigh heavily on any post-independence arrangements between the Scottish and Westminster governments as both negotiated with one eye on the unforeseeble outcome of Edinburgh's approach to the EU whose member states have not themselves made up their minds whether they want Scotland or not.

How much effort will the UK give to a treaty with a Scotland that regards it simply as a stop-gap until membership of the EU, which has never forgiven Brexit?

The dilemma for Sturgeon is that her need for generous UK co-operation will be strong during the transition to independence when Scotland will be on its own as a fledgling country with a weak economy.

Scotland's reliance on the UK is far greater than vice versa. England doesn't need Scotland to maintain its position and standard of living. It will continue to be an established country with mature institutions built over centuries and a world-class economy.

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Scotland will embark on independence having to build an entire government apparatus from scratch and, pending qualification for EU membership, being entirely isolated once transition from the UK is complete. No other country in Europe isn't part of some established political or regional alliance. But this is what is in store for Scotland while it knocks at the EU's door..

The picture looks dire and no doubt international generosity would be shown to the new country, but the modern world is made up of interlocking institutions which have conditions for membership. Joining the UN is nice but membership never put food on anyone's table. and the SNP has a thing about Nato.

These are facts behind the fatuity of SNP pretences that all will come right in the wash and the self-indulgent romanticism and ignorance of much of the party's rank-and-file in working-class, west-central Scotland with its strong 19th century Irish immigrant culture.

One wonders how many of the party's foot soldiers have been there and whether their antipathy owes more to some inchoate dislike of Englishness rather than dislike of English people.

None the less, it's there and must be reckoned with. Support for independence stands at 58% compared with 30% at the start of the 2014 referendum campaign. Sturgeon, on course to a majority at the Scottish parliament elections, still hasn't explained how she'll pay for the expensive things promised for independence despite the loss of UK subsidies.

It is embarrassing, after six years of supposedly filling in gaps, to watch the SNP's brightest and best squirm under questioning about how they'll provide a booming economy, all still predicated on the use of the pound which the UK has ruled out and which would anyway curtail basic economic independence even with a Scottish central bank.

There is no doubt that a country of five million people can become independent but it is untrue to pretend they will maintain standards of living during an unstable future.

Do the enthusiastic young Nationalists in the Glasgow housing projects think manna will descend on them under rule from Edinburgh? It's a rule of revolutions that those who were poor before are poor afterwards.

The main beneficiaries of independence will be the administrative class regardless of whether the economy falls or rises. Former UK diplomat and independence supporter Craig Murray expects a huge expansion of the nomenklatura and its adjuncts.

Scotland, he says, will need between 20 and 25 ministries with up to 50,000 core civil servants – compared with 11,000 now – and a bicameral parliament with a separate layer of administration. It will have 75 embassies and 100 consulates worldwide and the influx of foreign diplomats will fire up the Edinburgh property market. All new jobs reserved for the privileged few.

The cost of being jealous of England looks high for the ordinary Nationalist if he really thinks about it.

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