WHISPER it. Scotland’s political parties actually agree that Westminster’s power grab over farming and fishing is not on. Yip – even the Scottish Tories believe that bringing powers back to Westminster for a wee touch of standardisation before sending unchangeable tablets of stone north to Holyrood isn’t all that democratic.

And there’s more.

Scottish Tory MSPs, led by their constitutional spokesperson Adam Tomkins, have criticised Theresa May over her government’s botched timetabling of the EU Withdrawal Bill. Amendments to prevent the aforementioned power grab were set to be debated by MPs in the House of Commons this week, but will now be debated by bishops, millionaires and disgraced former ministers next week in the House of Lords instead.

This is particularly poor because the Scottish Affairs Committee (SAC) produced a wheen of relevant amendments, which could easily have been adopted by the UK Government. Instead, David Fluffy Mundell promised he was hatching extra special, gift-wrapped UK Government amendments and persuaded Scottish Tory MPs to bide their time, wait for them and oppose the SAC proposals. Of course the SAC is chaired by that “raving separatist” Pete Wishart. But this is Westminster folks, so of course the committee had a Unionist majority and the largest single block of MPs were Tories. So it must’ve kinda hurt (presumably) for the Timorous Twelve to have to hing a deafie and ignore the consensual proposals drafted by their ain folk. Even more painful when against all odds, Fluffy let them down and failed to deliver the amendments or the Commons debate he had promised.

That’s a bit awkward.

The Scottish and Welsh governments have already made clear they will not consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill unless the bit dealing with the devolved administrations and powers returning from Brussels is amended (Clause 11). Under the rather flimsy Sewel Convention, Holyrood must give its consent to Westminster legislating on its behalf in areas that touch on devolved powers. And even though the recent judicial review showed just how shaky that convention is – even though Theresa May could steam roller the legislation through without the approval of the Scottish Parliament – she won’t.

Because for once, the Scottish Government isn’t standing alone. The Labour First Minister of Wales is on side, and so are members of Holyrood’s Constitution Committee, which unanimously agreed that clause 11 “represents a fundamental shift in the structure of devolution”, which could damage “the integrity of the devolution settlement in Scotland”. That includes three Conservative members who’ve agreed the committee cannot recommend formal consent to the Withdrawal Bill until Clause 11 is either replaced or removed. Jings.

Given this unusual show of unity, Theresa May apparently decided to stop arguing with the Celts to keep the Brexit show on the road. Her people just didn’t manage to produce the amendments needed to guarantee the continuing operation of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly in time.

Och well, dinnae fash. This vital issue can easily be debated by the House of Lords instead. You know – the largest unelected chamber in the world, outside the People’s Congress of China. It’s just a shame the anti-elitist SNP have opted not to nominate candidates for the Lords, so unfortunately the party that runs the Scottish Government will effectively be silenced in one of the most important debates about the Scottish Parliament. Yeah, shame.

And it’s just a coincidence – honest – that Theresa May is set to create 12 not six new Tory peers – ignoring the recommendations of the Burns Committee which wants the number of Lordly replacements halved in an attempt to slim down the swollen chamber. Well I guess with a name like Burns the committee looked a little Jock-heavy too.

Of course, some Lords are independent-minded, outspoken old souls, quite capable of stopping any dodgy Fluffy-inspired amendments in their tracks -- remember last year when Michael “Tarzan” Heseltine led the campaign to give parliament a veto over Theresa May’s final Brexit deal.

But dinnae get your hopes up. Theresa’s new Tory placemen and women will make sure this latter day Henry VIII has her way.

If this is democracy, I’m a Brussels Sprout.

You know, it reminds a gal of the bad old days when vital legislation needed to democratise Scottish society never quite got on to the statute books because of that same old problem -- lack of time in the Commons. Stuff like abolishing feudalism, creating national parks, creating a legislative right-to-roam and a right to buy land for downtrodden communities all got sidelined by more important British debates on royal weddings and flower arranging.

But surely UK governments left that contemptuous attitude to all things Scottish back in the 90s, in the days before Holyrood? Surely sticking two fingers up to the Scots isn’t cricket any more or – more to the point -- isn’t a clever use of energy when Messrs Johnson, Gove, Hammond and Davis are busy wrestling with Messrs Barnier, Juncker and Verhofstadt plus 27 member governments on a daily basis.

So what the heck went wrong?

It seems the job of compromising with the Scots had been given to the recently sacked and thus conveniently silenced Damian Green – you know the guy with such a Ben Nevis of onerous responsibilities that Theresa May hasn’t yet seen fit to replace him. Who would have guessed the Prime Minister’s right-hand man was so important that he was protected for months after police allegations about computer porn, but yet somehow had no staff, no civil servants, nothing but his own non-surfing spare time in which to devise and timetable legislation vital to the continuing existence of the Scottish Parliament?

Aye right. Forgive me if I dinnae quite buy that.

It sounds like Prof Tomkins didn’t buy it either. Yesterday he was “deeply frustrated and disappointed” amendments were not produced in time for a Commons debate and said it was “imperative” the Withdrawal Bill was passed by Westminster with Holyrood’s consent.

The imminent prospect of a disastrous Brexit has also caused Scottish Labour MPs to get a bit brave. Jeremy Corbyn is reportedly facing a backbench rebellion to secure continued UK membership of the customs union post Brexit after 20 Labour MPs backed an amendment to the Government’s Trade Bill by the MP for Edinburgh South Ian Murray.

He says: “If we demand a Brexit that protects our economy, jobs and future prosperity then the customs union and single market are critical. The Government and opposition can’t deliver what they claim they want to deliver without, at the very least, keeping these on the negotiating table.”

Well quite. That’s brave stuff when the Labour leader is stubbornly keeping stum on Brexit for fear of riling North of England supporters who once voted Ukip.

Still, resisting the temptation to become righteously angry, sarcastic or suspicious about the motives of Labour and Tory MSPs, something truly significant is happening. Scottish-based Unionist politicians have opted to stand by the SNP and the economic interests and political culture of Scotland – not the lines spouted by their London HQs.


Driven by Brexit and powered by Scotland’s 62 per cent vote to remain in the EU, MSPs of every party are waking up to the fact that public opinion north of the Border is squaring up to become a very different beast to public opinion south of it.

January 2018 -- mark the calendar. It’s the month the settled will of the Scottish Parliament collided with Westminster – and, despite the ineptitude and cynical contempt for democracy of the latter, the former will probably win.

That will be a small result.