Article 50: what will the letter say?
One Cabinet minister tells me that the Article 50 letter from the UK hasn’t been agreed at the top of government and that there’s serious disagreement still about how much detail it should go into in terms of headings for discussion and schedules of topics. Some want a much more information-light approach for the letter. The minister suggested that was why the government had gone cold on an early notification which many thought could happen tomorrow. No 10 insists that tomorrow was never in play.
On Thursday, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who already had quite a lot on their plates with Brexit, will head up to Scotland. Government colleagues say the visit of the No 10 Joint Chiefs is a coincidence as it is a postponed visit from a while ago to meet Tory MSPs. It will now have only one focus: Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum surprise.
They will discover there is barely embryonic planning amongst supporters of the Union. Even allowing for a bit of over-claiming, I don’t think that’s remotely true of the Yes camp.
One veteran of the No campaign in 2014 said he thought this time round there should be more made of the “please don’t leave us” emotional stuff that is believed to have helped to tip the balance in the second Quebec referendum. There were some late and rather red corduroy trouser dominated attempts in 2014 here. Is there more to be made of such ties in a second referendum?
One Tory MP for an English suburban seat in the South-East told me tonight: “I’m not sure we can win [a second Scottish referendum.] But we’ve got a better chance with the Scottish electorate than we’d have with my electorate.”