A REFERENDUM on Scottish independence could be held as early as next year after a dramatic move by Conservative leaders to support the historic poll.This is certainly a fascinating development and, as it will cause Labour to freak out even more, it's to be welcomed.
The party's vice-chairman has publicly backed a referendum as soon as possible to "clear the air" over Scotland's constitutional future.
But let's look a bit into the future. One of the perennial arguments concerning the independence question is: what about the EU? Some argue that both Scotland and England would automatically continue as EU members as they are the "founding fathers" of the British state. Others say that England, Wales and Northern Ireland would be regarded as the "Continuing UK" and that Scotland would have to apply in its own right. For the purposes of this argument I'm ignoring the question as to why anyone would want to be in the EU!
The scene is 2008. The Scottish parliament has called for an independence referendum. Only Labour is opposed. The polls are close. Labour's leader, Wendy Alexander, claims that Scotland could be "booted out of Europe" and that all of our top companies would depart for the South. Strangely though, some English companies are talking about a move in the opposite direction...
"Good Evening. This is Newsnight with Kirsty Wark. We're going to hear from Wendy who's up in Edinburgh.
"I hope you enjoyed the holiday, Wendy. Now, what about this terrible threat to Scottish jobs that independence would bring."
"Hi Kirsty, isn't Majorca wonderful at this time of year!"
"Er, yes Wendy, but as I understand it, you don't think that an independent Scotland could necessarily remain in the EU. Is that it?"
"You got it!"
"Well Wendy, and regards to wee Dougie - he's so cute in his swimming trunks, as it happens we can sort out that question right now! On the other line I've got the European President."
"Mr President, how are you today?"
"Hi Kirsty, I'm on my way from Strasbourg to Brussels aboard Euro Force One. This Airbus 380 is so big - turn the wave machine off, Ms Caplin - so much bigger than George's tiny thingy. What's it called? Taco One! Ha! Ha! Yo Bush!"
"What we want to know, Mr President, is whether the EU would approve of an independent Scotland."
"Ah yes, Scotland. Isn't that where the Queen retired to after I made her curtsey to Cherie?"
"Well, Kirsty, in these matters I've got to consider what's best for Europe, for humanity, for the children.
"I understand that Gordon's got my old job now. And doesn't he sit for that place, Raith, yeah that's it. But he hasn't got a seat at Holyrood, has he? So if Scotland becomes independent, he's in the merde, as we sophisticates put it.
"Kirsty, your new EU/Scottish passport is in the post!"