‘TRY again. Fail again.’

If you voted for Scottish independence in September 2014 and to remain in the European Union (EU) in June this year, these words from Samuel Beckett’s Worstward Ho may sum up how you feel about the prospect of indyref2. Constant grappling with constitutional change is exhausting – and sometimes depressing. But it’s more important than ever that Scotland takes charge of her own destiny. In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, the Union is unravelling before our eyes. Not to act would be criminally pusillanimous.

A reversal of the Union of the English and Scottish parliaments was perhaps inevitable after the Scottish Parliament was reconvened in 1999. The current decoupling of public sentiment in the two countries on the issues of the EU and immigration may just be part of the death throes. Meanwhile, across the North Channel, another kind of death is underway: the death of partition. The absurdity of the division of Ireland was thrown sharply into relief by the Brexit vote. Who believes the Emerald Isle will still be divided 100 years from now? What about 50 years? Or ten?

Scotland and Ireland have different, if connected, histories, but the driving force behind their current foment is the same: the end of the British Empire. Excepting the odd rock here and there, Northern Ireland is the last colony, while Scotland is the junior partner in a union whose main project – colonising one quarter of the world – has now ended.

For better or for worse, Scots were over-contributors to that project. Now it and other common projects, such as fighting wars and mining for coal, are over. We’ve become like a knotless thread, making a bit of whisky, running a few banks, worrying what we’ll do when the oil runs out.

It doesn’t have to be that way. But it always will be that way if we don’t control the levers of our own economy. And whatever new powers may come to Holyrood in the coming years, we shall have less control over those levers than ever before, because we have taken leave of the Westminster political parties.

The Brexit voted demonstrated very clearly that Scots and English people want different things. Anyone in Scotland who is still against independence in its aftermath must ask themselves two questions. First, does Theresa May’s Government have Scotland’s best interests at heart? And, second, can Labour ever win again here (never mind in England)?

The answer to both these questions is pretty clearly no. Bent to the wheel of being ambitious about the deal it can get for Brexit Britain – code for leaving the European single market while somehow magically staying in it – May’s Government has made it abundantly clear that it considers Scots and their elected representatives to be a tiresome bunch of whingers who’ve had their referendum.

‘I will be blunt,’ the Brexit minister, David Davis, told Hannah Bardell, the MP for Linvingston, in non-response to a question about a rise in homophobic attacks over the summer. ‘I will not take lectures on fostering division from the Scottish National Party.’

Electorally, if not morally or constitutionally, the Brexit

Minister can afford such fits of bile. The next general election is unlikely to be won for the Tories in Livingston.

Then there’s Labour. In some parts of the country, Scottish Labour begins to look like it’s enacting the final scene of a Shakespearean tragedy. You stab me, and I’ll stab you. Soon, they’ll all be lying on the deck, whimpering: “Et tu, Jezza?”

For if Scottish Labour was in disarray before Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election as leader of the UK party, it’s in an even worse state now. The idea that Corbyn, who knows about as much about Scotland as he does about the working classes, and Seamus Milne, his privately educated Stalinist lieutenant, can give Labour the kiss of life in the party’s one-time stronghold is frankly laughable. A country that produced Jimmy Reid is not going to fall for a middle-class protest politician with a full set of fashionably hopeless left-wing causes.

All of which leaves Scotland in a worse position than in the wildest-eyed days of Thatcherism, when the poll tax was imposed here a year early as a punishment for our failure to get with the monetarist programme. At least then we could hope for a Labour government. Now there is nothing to hope for.

Of course, Scotland and England could find a new shared project. In some ways, it’s tempting to hope for that. But the truth is the shared project before us now is Brexit – and 62 per cent of Scots don’t want it.

What will become of us if we stay in the union under these circumstances? It’s hard to imagine Scotland being a priority for the next Conservative government. It’s equally hard to see Scotland as a priority for a Labour government led by Prime Minister Corbyn – and such a government is itself pretty much inconceivable.

If we don’t act now our economy will be trashed by a succession of UK governments in which Scots will play no or only a marginal part. Some, such as the journalist James Millar writing in the New Statesman, think that may even be the current government’s strategy. Treat ‘em mean and keep ‘em keen with hard Brexit to preserve the union.

‘Fail better’ is the next line from that Samuel Beckett quote – and that’s what we need to do now. For our own sake. For the sake of our friends and neighbours in England, who are bent on a different path. And for the sake of our friends and neighbours in Ireland, who cannot be asked to endure more division than they already have.