WE all like to throw in the occasional literary quote to help an argument along and to convey the impression that we are informed and well read types of chiels. Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and the great Jock Stein are favourites of mine. These gems have become well polished over the years but nothing is ever to be gained by claiming any as my own.

The Tory Minister Sam Gyimah last week on Question Time also quoted one of the immortals when slapping down America’s mad president for re-tweeting the sentiments of a British Nazi group. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” Those familiar with the Harry Potter books will recognise these as the words of Professor Albus Dumbledore who, of course, actually is immortal.

The old professor with the big beard is globally recognised as a titan of progressive education both within the magic community and in the society of mere mortals beyond. Just because he isn’t a real person doesn’t mean he is less deserving of having his wisdom properly attributed by Tories like Gyimah. Perhaps the minister simply doesn’t believe the oeuvre of JK Rowling is sufficiently erudite to be acknowledged publicly.

Another of the immortal professor’s apercus might be appropriate when choosing the right words accurately to describe the current mind-set of Theresa May. “Of course it’s happening inside your head Harry, but why on Earth should that mean it is not real?” Since she lost her majority this year as a result of the most spectacular example of political hubris ever witnessed the British Prime Minister has been wandering around in a dwam, saying to herself “this can’t be happening; this can’t be happening.”

She may have thought that things could not get any worse than being forced to bribe Ulster’s backwoodsmen and banjo players to shore up her broken government.

To be fair, most of the rest of us couldn’t conceive of much worse either than being remembered for getting into bed with this shower of mediaeval mobsters. As Monday dawned though, the Prime Minister was entitled to think that perhaps she was about to be granted a small advent blessing. At last it seemed a Brexit divorce settlement was to be reached with the European Union and that the long-awaited trade negotiations could get under way.

That was before the DUP decided to pull the rug from under her feet because they felt that a few sentences in the agreement where they pertained to the Irish Border left them feeling somehow less “Brurrish”.

The DUP revel in their popular depiction as a collection of flat Earth fantasists. To them, this is the ultimate accolade for to be insulted by your enemies while remaining true to your principles and your religious beliefs is one of the highest forms of saintliness and will attract God’s favour. They believe fervently in everything they say; their politics are indivisible from their Christianity. There is a degree of respect due for a party which doesn’t waver from its core beliefs.

The problem for this country post-Brexit is that a picture of Britain is beginning to form throughout the world that is markedly different from that which the Brexiteers are fond of peddling. In this picture Britain is a country being run by an assortment of bowler-hatted, Oswald Mosely-types who think they can forge another empire by trading with its former commonwealth partners. “Surely,” they think, “we’ll still be able to dust down our old East India Company networks and show the fuzzy-wuzzies who’s boss once more.” Several of these countries that we used to enslave and exploit and whose people we slaughtered have been praying to God that an opportunity might come to make life uncomfortable for their colonial tormentors. That time is now about to arrive. Any Brexiteers who think that negotiating hundreds of trade deals with these countries will be a walk in the park are deluding themselves.

That Britain is now so clearly under the influence of a political organisation who still follow the ideals of a fey, 17th century Dutch Prince (and those of his white horse, it seems) has made it a figure of fun around the world: a country that cannot be taken seriously. That its European fate has been placed in the hands of the three amigos Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox now renders the UK a pantomime country. If Hollywood were ever seriously to consider making a modern version of the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup they would surely set it in post-Brexit Britain.

In Scotland, the shambles of Brexit has played out beautifully for the cause of independence. Evidence of this came with the latest opinion poll which put support for Scottish independence at 47 per cent. This ought to be causing Unionist leaders in Scotland nightmares too.

More than three years after the independence referendum and the recent UK electoral disappointments suffered by the SNP, support for self-determination has increased by three points without a single day of campaigning. In this time the Scottish Conservatives and their bag-carriers in the Scottish Labour Party accused the SNP of being obsessed with independence instead of focusing on the day job.

Since then, Davidson has become a mere pantomime figure herself, popping up on light entertainment shows with the abandon of Christopher Biggins at his height. Her former political rival Kezia Dugdale simply swapped the reptiles of Scottish Labour for a few less toxic ones in the Australian jungle.

Nicola Sturgeon is believed to be considering seriously a 2018 second referendum at a time when it will have become plain –even to the most fervent Scottish Unionists – that Brexit and its indolent and self-serving authors have brought the UK to its knees.

Here is a word of advice to the SNP, though. A second independence referendum is ours to lose owing to the crazy and greedy incompetence of Theresa May and her Westminster colleagues. But please desist from your empty gesture politics. No amount of billing and cooing about children’s gender or minimum alcohol pricing or Named Persons will improve the life of a single poor person in Scotland. Run a million miles in the opposite direction from shadowy lobbying firms with links to the Trump regime.

Independence is ours for the taking; don’t muck it up playing silly games and indulging in dangerous social experimentation.