THE accession of King Charles III to the throne is “bad news for Nicola Sturgeon” and the push for Scottish independence, Unionist Scottish MPs believe. Queen Elizabeth II was always understood to have been a strong supporter of keeping the United Kingdom together and there is speculation that this is one of the reasons she is believed to have wanted to die in Scotland.
King Charles III today was joined by Prime Minister Liz Truss and Scottish nationalist First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh today to mourn his mother in Scotland’s capital as she was laid in state at St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile.
The imagery of the event and the crowds who turned out in Scotland as her coffin was driven in procession from Balmoral in Aberdeenshire has been taken as proof that Scots will be less inclined to support independence even as Ms Sturgeon plots a second referendum next year.
Several pro-UK Scottish MPs have spoken off the record to Express.co.uk to highlight why they also believe the accession of King Charles is a boon for those who want to keep the UK united.
One senior MP said: “Of course, nobody wants to use this tragic event for political purposes and nobody is doing that, but what we have seen over the last few days is that the picture of Scotland which the SNP have manufactured is not true.
The MP pointed out that by dying in Scotland it ensured Elizabeth II lay in state in Edinburgh as well as London.
“The symbolism is very important.”
The MP added: “We have allowed the SNP to control the narrative on what it means to be Scottish for the last 15 years but this offers a different narrative at last and reminds those of us that believe in being Scottish and British that our version of being Scottish is more widely held than theirs [the SNP’s].”
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Another Unionist Scottish MP noted that the events had put Nicola Sturgeon in “an awkward spot”.
The MP said: “She looked so uncomfortable singing God Save the King and then she had to sign the proclamation which is literally written into the 1707 Act of Union of the parliaments supporting the Protestant church which has all sorts of symbolic problems for SNP supporters.
“Her problem is that those who support her will be turned off by this and quite angry. They are republicans and hate this sort of thing.”
Another MP added: “The other problem for Nicola [Sturgeon] is that everyone knows that her part is anti-monarchy and she is too.
“They can pretend that an independent Scotland would not be a republic but everybody knows what most of the SNP want to do. Nobody is fooled.”
A former minister added: “It’s a lose, lose for Sturgeon! Her singing God Save the King will not appease Unionists but her own people [nationalists] will hate her for it.”
The fact that Ms Truss is accompanying the King to the key events mourning the late Queen in the capitals of the four nations is also an important symbol.
One pro-UK Scottish MP from an Opposition party said: “It is a good thing that she is doing that.
“It really reminds people in the different nations that they are part of the UK.
“The importance of the Prime Minister and the King together marking an event that is above politics should not be lost on the psychology of the independence debate.”
Meanwhile, the UK’s leading polling expert Professor John Curtice, has noted in his “What Scotland Thinks” blog that the Monarchy plays a huge role in support for the Union.
He said: “There is undoubtedly a link between attitudes towards Scotland’s constitutional status and attitudes towards the monarchy.
“In the case of the Opinium poll question two-thirds (67 percent) of those who would currently vote to remain in the UK said the monarchy should be retained, while just under one in five (19 percent) backed a republic.
“In sharp contrast, a half (50 percent) of those who currently support independence wanted to switch to a republic, while only around three in ten (29 percent) preferred a monarchy.”
He went on: “Similarly, as many as 72 percent of those who currently back the Union told Panelbase that an independent Scotland should keep the crown, while only 14 percent wanted an elected Head of State.
“Among those backing Yes, only 26 percent wanted a monarchy while 60 percent wanted a republic. In short, support for the monarchy in Scotland is strongly associated with a wish to remain part of the Union – and it is this link that is probably a major explanation of the monarchy’s lower overall level of popularity north of the border.”