There’s only one question in Scottish politics these days, other than the question of just how unprepared the UK Government is for Brexit. There are startled bunnies in the centre of the M8 who’re more prepared than the UK Government is for its inevitable flattening by the oncoming heavy goods traffic of the EU. Other than that question and despite the newly launched campaign of the Tories to stir up support against a second independence referendum, the only real question in Scottish politics these days is when that second independence referendum should be held. The available options can be boiled down to three.

There’s whenever Ruth Davidson looks at a tank and a gaggle of news photographers and says, “Naa, let’s not bother,” which coincidentally will be around about the time that the Sun runs out of hydrogen and begins its expansion into a red giant which will eventually consume the Earth and burn everything to a crisp. The sun is due to lose the last of its hydrogen around five billion years into the future. This is also going to be the only time that Scotland will witness a red giant, because we sure as hell won’t see one from the Labour Party.

Several hundred million years before this the seas will have boiled dry, proving that tidal energy will not in fact last forever and this fact will be cited by Theresa May as a justification for allowing the Chinese to control the off switch on the UK’s nuclear energy supplies. Sometime after the seas have boiled dry is the favoured timescale of the Tory Party for a second independence referendum. By this time the human race will be as extinct as the Labour Party’s electoral chances and we’ll all be past caring, although you can be certain that lurking under a rock there will be a bacterium which has evolved a higher degree of self-awareness than you’ll see on the Tory front benches. However if the Tories get their way it will be a British bacterium until the very end, and they’ll lecture it about how Alex Salmond said a referendum was only to be once in a generation and since bacteria reproduce asexually that condition has still not been met.

Then there’s the option of holding the referendum sometime after the 2020 UK General Election, when it seems likely that we’ll have yet another majority Tory Government that hardly anyone in Scotland has voted for. This is based on the theory that it’s going to take another General Election in order to hammer into the heads of the Scottish electorate that there are bacteria lurking under rocks who have a better chance of forming the next Government of the UK than the Labour Party. However the problem with this theory is that the only beings who are not already aware that Labour is unelectable are those selfsame bacteria. And most of them have already been expelled from the party for sending tweets that are snarky about Owen Smith.

The big problem with delaying until after the next UK General Election is that by that time it’s highly probable that the UK will already have left the EU, taking Scotland with it. It’s a bit like being a part of a rowdy crowd at a pub which gets thrown out by the landlord for bad behaviour, and then begging to get back in again afterwards, swearing blind that you’re nothing like the antisocial misfits out in the rain on the pavement, scrabbling around in the gutter for a World Trade Organisation tariff with a currency that’s worth less than the Albanian lek.

Meanwhile we’ll have Liam Fox lecturing us about excess fat and how throwing thousands of workers into unemployment is really great news for the British economy.

It’s a whole lot more sensible to disassociate yourself from the antisocial misfits before they’ve been thrown out, and then you can get to stay in the pub instead of frantically chapping on doors in the hope you can arrange a trade deal with other countries before the bailiffs repossess your factories.

Which brings us to the third option, Scotland should hold its second independence referendum sometime after the UK Government has pressed the Brexit button, but before negotiations have been concluded.

By that time the realisation that Labour is incapable of forming the next UK Government and we’re facing decades of Tory permausterity will have percolated through even to those remnants of Glasgow Labour cooncillors who thought forming a coalition with the Conservatives in the cooncil was a grand idea.

If the second indyref is held some 18 months into the two-year Brexit negotiation period, enough time will have elapsed for there to be some sort of clarity about what sort of Brexit deal the UK is facing. We should know by then whether we’re in for a soft Brexit or one that’s harder than the expression on Theresa May’s face when someone utters the sentence: “No you can’t read my emails.” The UK will still be officially a part of the EU, allowing an independent Scotland to make a seamless transition into full EU membership in its own right, gliding gracefully into place like a Strictly contestant who isn’t Ed Balls.

The UK Government doesn’t appear to be in any particular hurry to start the Brexit negotiations, which isn’t unrelated to the fact that they have as much chance of getting what they want as Gordie Broon does of getting his vow fulfilled.

But the clock is ticking. The local elections are due in May next year and if Brexit hasn’t begun by then both the Tories and Labour will face being wiped out in England by a resurgent and angry Ukip.

Their difficulty is our opportunity. We need to use this time to organise ourselves for the next referendum. Make no mistake, the Unionist establishment is already gearing up to fight one. We should be ready for a second independence referendum by the end of 2018 or early in 2019.

And this time, we’re going to win.