‘DON’T leave the UK, lead the UK.’’ Remember that plea during the 2014 independence referendum? Ah, how it tugged at the heart strings.‘‘We love you Scotland!’’

What followed was a swift masterclass in backtracking. On the steps of Downing Street the morning after the vote, David Cameron pledged ‘‘English Votes for English Laws’’ and said that the voice of England must be heard.

Next up was the 2015 General Election campaign; which could be summed up by the infamous poster of Nicola Sturgeon as a malevolent puppeteer, pulling the strings of a teeny wee Ed Miliband.

The same shallow pledge that had been disingenuously employed during indyref, was used to stoke the fears of middle England. Namely, that Scotland might lead the UK and in turn, get too big for its boots.

We all remember what happened next. Forced into action by a majority he never expected to win, Cameron called a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. He campaigned for Remain. He lost and then resigned, a casualty of his party’s bitter in-fighting and his own weakness.

Theresa May was crowned Prime Minister and assured us she absolutely would not call an early General Election. There was far too much to do and to go to an early vote would be damaging for the country.

Then she had a look at the poll numbers which suggested that she could massively increase her majority and promptly broke her promise. The voters gave her a kicking: she lost her majority and now limps on, leading a shambolic government that is devoid of any domestic agenda.

Brexit reigns supreme. It’s a God. A shrine, where the clergy of “The Democratic Will of the People” lay gifts to show their devotion. An unstoppable force that cannot be controlled or curtailed. Brexit means Brexit, even in Scotland: where 62% voted to remain.

This week, Sturgeon was facing calls from former advisors to back a second EU referendum, a proposal which is supported by the LibDems and MPs from other parties.

At First Ministers Questions on Thursday, Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie pleaded with the First Minister to get behind the idea.

She was noncommittal and pointed out that it’s not the SNP that are a block to the proposal. She directed Rennie to have a word with the Labour Party.

It’s ironic that some Unionists are at pains to point out that the EU referendum was a “UK-wide” vote. They say that Scotland voting to remain – and being forced into Brexit – shouldn’t be a catalyst to revisit the independence question. While at the same time, they implore Sturgeon to throw her political weight behind EURef2.

Why would she? The SNP’s proposal that the UK stay in the single market was met with derision and ultimately fell on deaf ears. The Continuity Bill – supported by the Scottish Parliament – will face legal challenge from the UK Government. The idea that Sturgeon championing EURef2 will tip the balance and force the Tory government – who are infatuated with a hard Brexit – to change course, is for the birds.

Strategically, it would be foolhardy. Scotland voted Remain. For the First Minister to become a poster woman for the campaign to get England to change its mind, is a plan fraught with risk.

We know how it would go. Sturgeon is a compelling speaker. If she endorsed the campaign, she would be the highest-profile politician to do so and quickly would become the go-to voice. She would probably make the case better than the likes of Vince Cable. She might even change a few minds. But not those that matter, and in which case, you’re looking at a lot of political grief for zero reward for either her party, or the country.

In a nation of equals, the “People’s Vote” brigade wouldn’t need to chap on Sturgeon’s door and beg her to help them out. In a nation of equals, the largest constituent part wouldn’t be able to haul Scotland out of the EU when it voted decisively to remain.

Therein lies the conundrum. The appeal for Scotland to “lead the UK, not leave” has been shown for what it is. So too has any pretence that the UK is a union of equals. And however good an orator, however compelling and convincing an interviewee, Sturgeon cannot save the UK Government from itself.

If voters in England and Wales have changed their minds on Brexit then it is up to MPs who represent them to make the case for another vote. Perhaps they could also tell us why Scotland going back to the polls to vote on independence is a democratic outrage but revisiting the Brexit decision is not.

What’s abundantly clear is that – to quote Theresa May – “now is not the time” for Nicola Sturgeon to be fighting the battle for EURef2. Not when there is another – potentially far more rewarding and successful – second referendum that she could be concentrating on ...