IT comes as little surprise to anyone that UK Government has no understanding whatsoever of the devolved nations that make up the United Kingdom. We’ve watched from afar as Theresa May and her colleagues have ridden roughshod over Holyrood and the Scottish people’s sovereign wishes, even going so far as to take the Scottish Government to the Supreme Court to uphold their blind allegiance to Brexit.

Scotland knows that they don’t have our best interests at heart, we know that they are trying to stifle our voice, we know they haven’t made the effort to understand the nuts and bolts of devolution. We know that the same applies to Wales, which has meekly capitulated on the power grab, and to Northern Ireland, where the Conservatives are now fatally compromised by their relationship with one side of the political divide.

But despite all of the above it was still somewhat shocking to hear Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland Secretary’s open admission last week that she didn’t understand the nuances of Northern Irish politics. It is refreshing, of course, to have a politician caught telling the truth but this is a politician with one of the most important and sensitive briefs in the whole of Government, and she’s not fully informed on the country whose complex interests she is supposed to represent. Surely Bradley, like all of us of a certain age, grew up with the Troubles to a lesser or greater degree, through the bombings on mainland Britain right through to the terrible news headlines of atrocities and tragically high death tolls in the country itself. The UK’s very recent history is inextricably marked by the terror of the Troubles and the extraordinary achievement of the Good Friday Agreement. One of the reasons we’re even talking about this difficult time in our history is because Brexit is such a threat to the people of Ireland, North and south, and that peace brought by Good Friday after so much blood. Bradley should know better and so should her Prime Minister chirping on, parrot-like, about her “precious Union”. In Ireland it is not the Union which is precious, but the peace.

Bradley’s highly embarrassing and worrying admission just highlights many in Westminster’s gross ignorance of the devolved nations that currently make up the UK and just how harmful this ignorance can be. It was the same when the Tories hopped into bed with the DUP last year to ensure their government’s survival after the snap General Election – cue an accelerated learning curve not just for MPs but for a lot of people on the who, what and why of this most reactionary and divisive political party.

Even a senior Tory Brexiteer has admitted that his administration’s grasp of the devolved nations is less than acceptable and is in fact a threat to the very Union his party so desperately seeks to preserve. Chairman of Westminster’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Sir Bernard Jenkins, has warned of the dangers of being “careless” with relationships with the devolved nations. This cross-party group of parliamentarians concluded that Whitehall officials showed “no consistent or coherent rational or logical understanding” of the devolved nations. That’s putting it mildly.

In Scotland’s case, we’ve got a total nonentity as Secretary of State for Scotland, which is what that redoubtable Tory rogue Bob Boothby had in his mind, when he said that the post was traditionally occupied by the “scullery maid of the Cabinet”. Unlike Bradley, the eminently forgettable Mundell knows about Scotland’s devolved Parliament, and he does understand the ins and outs of Scottish politics, and yet, even with this inside information, he has continually capitulated to his masters in Westminster. This despite his own admission that by doing so, he is increasing support for independence, the exact opposite of his remit. I’m not sure which one of them, Bradley or Mundell, is more deserving of Westminster’s booby prize as the most likely footnotes of the current cabinet.

Mind you, there’s a lot of candidates vying for last place on the devolution know-how game show. Scottish Tory MP, Luke Graham, for instance, has had trouble grasping the concept of his own party’s English Votes for English Laws policy, and routinely fails to comprehend the difference between what is reserved to Westminster and what is devolved to the country he is supposed to represent. Even Scottish Tory MSPs deliberately try to muddy the water on their own colleagues’ reserved failures by pretending they are the responsibility of the devolved Government at Holyrood. Fortunately, voters in Scotland are no longer as ill-informed as some of their MPs or indeed MSPs.

In the interests of fairness, it would be churlish to leave Labour out of this discussion on devolution ignorance. After all, the Scottish public and assembled MSPs have to put up with Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard’s many mistakes on what is reserved versus what is devolved as he routinely gets caught out at Holyrood with his foot in his mouth. Anyone remember his gaffe about Scottish Water and public ownership? Is it too much to expect the leader of a political party to know his onions on the country he represents? Corbyn isn’t much better. His failure to “get” Scotland on any level, let alone its successes as a devolved nation, is unforgivable for many reasons – the transformative policies Corbyn promised, have been consumed by his party’s dithering on Brexit, while in Scotland, the SNP-led Government has taken decisions on social justice and equality that Labour can only dream of. Like the ghost of Christmas future, the echo of Labour’s failure to defend Scotland’s democratic choice to remain in Europe in the face of a catastrophic Brexit will resound for many years to come.

In Wales, Carwyn Jones has predicted that a no-deal Brexit could lead to Welsh independence and has called on the UK Government to increase cooperation and collaboration with the devolved nations to rebuild trust. It may be too late. A recent poll commissioned by Best for Britain showed that 52% of Scots would vote in favour of independence should the UK leave the EU as planned, and 52% in Northern Ireland would support a united Ireland rather than remaining in a UK out of Europe. This is only one poll of course and one Welsh First Minister’s view, but it illustrates how the devolved nations have had enough of being mere playthings in the hands of careless Brexiteers and a Government trapped in their Westminster bubble. Their ignorance on devolution may be the unravelling of Theresa May’s “precious Union”. An independent Scotland, an independent Wales and a United Ireland – the fulfilment of what Neil Gunn once dreamed of as “the last bulwark of humanity”. Now let’s imagine that...