The National:

SINCE becoming Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has had historically abysmal personal ratings in Scotland.

A large part of the reason for the sustained Yes lead in opinion polls is almost certainly the coinciding of Nicola Sturgeon's unprecedented popularity during the pandemic with the emergence of a Westminster leader who voters in these parts find both offensive and incompetent.

The Conservatives' own strategists have suggested that the only way of navigating this state of affairs while keeping the Union intact is to make the PM as invisible as possible, while bringing to the fore the supposedly more palatable Tories such as Rishi Sunak and Ruth Davidson.

READ MORE: MPs tell Boris Johnson to stick to Covid rules and stay out of Scotland​

And yet this week Johnson will visit Scotland in the apparent belief that doing so will "save the Union", even as every scrap of logic suggests it's bound to have a rather different effect. So what does he think he's doing?

I wouldn't exclude the (frankly scary) possibility that the way Tories talk to each other in private isn't all that different from how they talk in public, and that the conversation may have gone something like this: "There cannot be any no-go areas for the Prime Minister in his precious United Kingdom. The Union must be saved because of the Prime Minister, not in spite of him."

If so, Johnson is guilty of a very dangerous self-indulgence which could help to destroy the thing he has pledged to protect.

The National: Boris Johnson visiting OrkneyBoris Johnson visiting Orkney

It's not as if we don't have past examples with which to judge the effect of Boris visits on Scottish public opinion.

In July of last year, he descended upon Moray and Orkney, while inspiringly doing his bit to prevent coronavirus spread by staying as far away as humanly possible from anyone resembling an actual voter.

The first batch of polls published afterwards showed support for independence soaring to all-time highs with both Panelbase (55%) and YouGov (53%).

READ MORE: Stunning new poll is 20th in a row to record majority for independence 

Of course there's no way of proving cause-and-effect, and it may well be that the public were simply responding more and more favourably to Nicola Sturgeon as the pandemic dragged on. But at the very least it can be said that seeing the PM up close (or more accurately seeing him on Reporting Scotland) didn't seem to make voters any fonder of Our Precious Union, and indeed it didn't halt the process of them becoming a touch less fond of it.

The National: Locals welcome the Prime Minister to OrkneyLocals welcome the Prime Minister to Orkney

A few weeks later, Johnson took his ill-fated staycation in Applecross. Although theoretically a private trip, it was presumably intended to demonstrate a liking for Scotland, and perhaps also support for the Scottish tourism industry.

That didn't gain the expected brownie points with the public either. Within a month, Yes had reached the highest level of support ever (56%) in a poll conducted online by any firm. And not long after that, it hit the highest level of support in any poll of any type in all of history, with a stunning 58% in an Ipsos MORI phone survey.

The only rational conclusion for the Yes movement to draw is that we should encourage Boris to come to Scotland as much as possible, to remain Tory leader indefinitely, and most importantly to take his hols here every single year.