A WEEK, proverbially, is a long time in politics. Last Monday, the UK’s internal disputes about Brexit rumbled quietly but sourly on. Officials liaised, recriminatory press releases were exchanged, and ministers occasionally assembled for seemingly fruitless discussions. But while Monsieur Barnier traded barbs with Mr Davis, and the now unsainted Theresa gave yet another excruciating Road to Brexit homily, the trial of strength between Whitehall and the governments of Wales and Scotland seemed to have ground to a kind of stalemate.

Even their talking points had attained a kind of unresolved stability. For the devolved administrations, the UK Brexit Bill was a power grab, a retrograde step, a zombie move by Whitehall which – almost 20 years after devolution – still lurches on in the misapprehension live in a unitary state with ein volk, ein reich and eine Mother of Parliaments.

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For Theresa May’s Government, by contrast, what was at stake was common sense common regulation of the UK common market, with Westminster – modestly – prepared to exercise the whip hand. All in the national interest, naturally.

The co-ordinated move by Welsh and Scottish governments to introduce parallel Brexit Continuity Bills last week shattered this debating dynamic, and things are now moving very quickly. The final die may not yet have been cast – the final destination of their negotiations remain obscure – but for the internal negotiations on how to deal with our departure from the European Union, the endgame must now be in sight.

For the UK Government, it is nearly time to capitulate – or to follow through on its threats and menaces to rewrite clause 11 as they damn well please. And as for devolution? There are only two options remaining, realistically. Either strike an accord with the Welsh and Scottish administrations, or publish your proposals and be damned, damning their eyes and damning the constitutional consequences.

As a leaked letter yesterday revealed, the UK Government isn’t oblivious to the fact that it is losing the propaganda war. The text, published by BBC Scotland, revealed UK ministers are fretting about the “Westminster power grab narrative deployed by the Scottish and Welsh Governments,” which they concede “have been difficult to counter in the abstract”.

You might well have thought that a UK Government, embattled on all sides, might have been glad to avoid yet another poisonous conflict that puts its own people in an awkward position. But as the Scottish Government’s Permanent Secretary outlined this week, it seems perfectly plausible that the Whitehall apparatus still doesn’t really get it.

This Times revealed this week that Leslie Evans had told Scottish civil servants that she had given a “pretty frank presentation on behalf of all three devolved administrations” about the frustrations of having to deal with a procrustean Whitehall which still imagines it is living in the 1950s.

In Scottish criminal procedure, we still look for corroboration of the essential facts of a case. And on this indictment, the evidence doesn’t just come from Leslie Evans. It is legion. One anonymous Scottish Tory said last weekend that “dinosaurs still stalk the corridors of power” in Whitehall, and that they were a headache to deal with, even for Unionists determined to die in the ditch for British unity.

Another anonymous civil servant reflected that May’s administration doesn’t “seem to have anybody around who knows Scotland, who gets devolution and knows how we operate”. David Cameron at least made an effort to maintain the odd factotum “who understood Scotland and there were channels we could use to make sure problems didn’t get any worse”. That all seems to have disappeared.

In whispers, Scottish Government officials will tell you that it isn’t just the crusty old Sir Humphreys who find the idea of our divided constitution baffling. The bright young things pumped into the civil service from Russell Group universities show similarly insensitive fingertips for devolution.

And on a human level, this is perfectly explicable. Perspective matters. Life experience matters. As one constitutional observer perceptively put it this week: “The lived reality of the constitution for the vast majority of the UK population is that it is unitary. They do not experience divided government and they do not understand it.”

Whether you support independence or oppose it, one thing is becoming increasingly plain – the acrimonious Brexit debate is taking place against that backdrop of deep incomprehension and good old-fashioned British indifference.

Last week, we wargamed Theresa May’s options. They remain unappealing on most fronts. She can still instruct her Advocate General to try to spike Holyrood’s Brexit Bill – but it doesn’t look like she can prevent its passage through the Scottish Parliament. At least,not without radically altering the debating dynamic in the chamber.

If the Scottish Tories were looking a little bilious last Friday morning, this week, they’re looking a whiter shade of pale. Why? First, the Holyrood battle lines have hardened. The old Better Together logic isn’t working, and the Tories are looking cold and alone.

Having backed the Scottish Government on the emergency timetable for Mike Russell’s bill, this week, Labour and Liberal Democrat MSPs piled in behind the measure in the stage one vote with hard words for how May’s administration has handled its task.

The Scottish Tories have just a week to disrupt this coalition before stage two, and another before the Presiding Officer must forward the bill to the monarch for royal assent.

At time of writing, the Scottish Government’s Brexit minister was locked in a room with his Welsh and UK Government counterparts. And thus far at least, the chimneys of Whitehall aren’t pumping out any white smoke.

For Tory constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins “the negotiations at government level and the all-party consensus in this Parliament have been placed in jeopardy” by the SNP’s “wrecking bill”. Decoded, what this means is that the Scottish Tories have decided to exile themselves from the mainstream, leaving three-quarters of MSPs backing the minority SNP administration’s stance.

Political nostalgia is a temptation for all political parties – particularly if they find themselves in a tight spot. All are tempted to reprise their greatest hits with the voting public when under pressure.

And why not? Reflexively, we know what the Scottish Tories are itching to argue that Holyrood’s Brexit Bill is really a third column for independence. The escapist line – that this was the SNP “forcing through” a divisive measure – is a perfect callback to the comfort zone politics which nudged the Ruth Davidson for a Strong Opposition Party ahead of Scottish Labour in the Holyrood polls in 2016.

Overweening SNP Government. Reckless majority. Sinisterly centralising. What Davidson and her colleagues need to realise is that when the facts of political life change, your political patter needs to change too.

This lack of imagination suggests something more fundamental. Davidson remains lost in a strategic fog about how to transform bison-whispering into a substantive platform for a new Scottish Government rooted in right-wing values. Jack Frost and the Siberian breeze froze the words in her throat and deprived her of the reinvigorating opportunities of a spring conference.

Throughout her recent tenure, Davidson has been a lucky general for the Scottish Tories.

But you wonder – fenced in on Brexit, isolated in Holyrood, left defending UK Government policies with which she is visibly uncomfortable, struggling to find her voice as a credible First Minister, unsupported by a Tory group in Holyrood with much breadth or depth, leaving tax policy to Darth Murdo and the magic of the Laffer curve – if Colonel Davidson’s luck isn’t finally running out.