WHAT in the name of the wee man was Theresa May actually doing in Scotland last night? Of course, we all know the Climb Every Mountain tour is intended to take the PM the length and breadth of Britain, proclaiming her hopeless Brexit deal in that distinctive, wooden, plummy monotone. Looking a bit wabbit, the gaunt Tory leader has the manner of a pearl-necklaced Nosferatu, as she wanders the rain-sodden extremities of the UK, searching for political sustenance to survive the horrors of next month’s Meaningful Vote.

But why bother?

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The tour began in Wales on Tuesday morning when absolutely nothing happened in the rural haven of Builth Wells. The PM told an underwhelmed gathering: “This deal delivers for farmers in Wales, who deserve better than the Common Agricultural Policy. After we leave the CAP, we will be free to design a new policy that works for agricultural producers in all four nations.”

To which the president of the Welsh Farmers’ Union Glyn Roberts responded: “We have been consistent. The best way to minimise disruption … is to remain within the single market and the customs union after leaving the EU.” Jings, Nicola Sturgeon’s ideas do get around. No wonder the PM decided not to tackle our First Minister on TV.

The National:

Of course the Welsh press did dutifully report that Theresa May had bothered to slog all the way to deepest Brecknockshire in order to repeat verbatim every platitude she had already uttered elsewhere about her benighted Brexit deal. But by the time she was shimmying off for the fast black to Belfast, the PM was already on the back foot rebutting a cruelly timed tweet from Donald Trump warning there’d be no trade deal with the US any time soon. See what happens when yer aff one day? Still the trip did produce some memories to treasure – like this exchange observed by Wales Online; “As she made her way round the stalls, people were warmly greeting the Prime Minister. One man cheered and shouted ‘You’re doing a good job’ to which she replied ‘Thank you’.”

Pure TV Gold.

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So nul points from the Welsh jury – a result that was always on the cards. Begging the question, why on earth did she go?

The mystery deepened as Theresa hopped across to Belfast – a cheeky, wee jaunt given Arlene Foster’s newfound hostility towards her erstwhile Tory buddie. Still, the upside-down world of Northern Ireland politics probably suited Theresa better than Wales. Even if the DUP hate her deal, farmers and business like it, because they can still move about and trade as if they’re in the EU. Clearly the PM was hoping to enter “enemy” territory and appeal to these ordinary voters over the heads of their own out-of-touch political leaders. Did it work?

Not totally. As Theresa May drove past a colourful demo urging her to intervene and legislate for equal marriage, news of the next wee bombshell was filtering through. Ultra loyalist former defence secretary Michael Fallon had described her deal as “doomed”, the “worst of all worlds” and so bad the PM’s future was “up to colleagues”. Ouch.

DUP leader Arlene Foster then wellied in, tweeting it was “offensive” to suggest the DUP might be bluffing over plans to oppose the PM’s Brexit plan. The Guardian did find sympathy for the PM in border town Newry, but that was largely because folk think her deal will be thrown out in a fortnight.


So, back to Westminster for Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday and then another flight north and a foray in the rain to a leather factory near Bridge of Weir for a hand-picked, highly staged photo opportunity.

The National:

Journalists from The National were excluded by No 10’s press office on the utterly laughable grounds of “limited capacity”. Two weeks ago this title just happened to be the only national Scottish newspaper blocked from questioning May’s de facto deputy David Lidington. Some folk see a parallel with Donald Trump’s persecution of CNN – but at least the US president doesn’t try to blame his personal dislikes on seating plans. Here’s the reality. Our First Minister is too smart to be tackled in TV debate, and our indy-supporting newspaper too likely to ask awkward questions.

READ MORE: Prime Minister faces backlash after locking out The National

The ban made Theresa May look petty and weak and provoked complaint from decidedly non-nationalist journos like David Leask and Alan Roden. A bit of an own goal and a back-handed compliment about the enduring strength of independence.

It’s not very clear how the photocall actually went. Approved journalists were told to appear at Bridge of Weir a full two hours before May and were expected to leave the second she did, scuttering about Renfrewshire to find enough broadband to file stories. That was never going to make the Scottish press warm to the PM’s cause.


In any case, there were some truly tasty stories around for hacks to probe – on Wednesday morning, the Chancellor finally admitted every “leave” scenario will damage the British economy.

At lunchtime, Philip Hammond, missing from Prime Minister’s Questions, was probably reeling from truly awful forecasts by the Bank of England suggesting a “disorderly” Brexit will push unemployment up to 7.5% and house prices down by 30%.

Finally, another row’s brewing over the Government’s decision to defy Parliament by not publishing the full legal advice on Brexit given to the Cabinet. Instead, MPs will only get to see a “position statement”.

So there’s been a succession of bad news stories during Theresa May’s wee pointless canter round the devolved nations. Is that just bad luck or poor strategy?

The Tory leader knows the wheels are coming off the cart, yet she parades round Britain with mock-press conferences, pseudo-scrutiny, scripted encounters and carefully chosen sympathisers – this looks like “outreach” to no-one but herself.

The National:

If she really meant business, the Prime Minister could have headed up to meet folk frae the fishing communities of north-east Scotland.

But she knows fishing communities are once bitten, twice shy; suspicious that British negotiators will sell out access to Scottish waters as soon as there’s a whiff of trade deals that favour southern interests.

At the time of writing, the Prime Minister is back in the air. But I can safely bet my shirt that absolutely nothing of any consequence has been said in Scotland, unless pigs start flying through Storm Diana and David Mundell resigns.

The Prime Minister’s Brexit deal is about to be struck down by her own MPs and tokenistic trips to long-ignored Celtic nations will not save it.

Scots must look beyond Theresa May’s last burst of frenzied distraction to the political crisis and then the opportunity that will follow her almost certain defeat two weeks from now.

The Imperial Masters have failed – a new future and perhaps a new country are already being born.