THE story might well be apocryphal. The setting was an upmarket department store in London, some years ago. An activist friend was facing trial for aggravated trespass along with a clutch of other protesters. Around 150 folk had peacefully occupied this Piccadilly establishment to the considerable chagrin of the store’s management and the bafflement of its well-heeled shoppers. Some protesters chatted cheerfully to staff and customers. Some protesters made a powerful racket. Their argument? That the store was a powerful racket – a tax avoider. The police were called. They were lifted and charged. A witness for the prosecution – I always envisage him as a sniffish Captain Peacock type – testified that he saw one of the protestors “uncork a bottle of our vintage champagne, and what was worse, drink it from the bottle unchilled”.

The mortal sins of the British political protester are a little different from our French neighbours. As Paris smoulders, satirical guillotines are erected in la Place de la Révolution and President Macron hides from his people in the Élysée Palace, in slow-burn Britain and sleepy Scotland, we seem to specialise in very orderly turmoil.

Unruffled as the scenery collapses, the prompt boy gets blotto in the wings, and the leading lady takes a tumble into the pit – we sit blandly in our seats, chew the cud, and wonder what the third act of Brexit might hold. The acting is wooden. The characters implausible. The plot-twists increasingly torment credulity. The costs of our tickets seem to increase with every minute this shabby pantomime dribbles on. But thus far? We seem prepared stoically to endure and endure.

For those of you who like your politics unpredictable and unrelenting, the coming week will be a real festive treat. The next five days read like a dark Brexit advent. You might as well hit the sherry now and face the future pickled.

On Monday, the European Court of Justice will decide if and how the UK can recall its notification under Article 50 of the treaties expressing its intention to leave the European Union. If, as seems probable, EU judges answer that question in the affirmative, they’ll throw a life-line to campaigners intent on stymieing Brexit.

On Tuesday, the dumpster fire will burn at its hottest, as Theresa May tries to whip a majority of MPs through Westminster’s voting lobbies behind her deal. Stunningly, the Prime Minister’s tour of Britain’s depots and barns last week didn’t seem to win over a majority of parliamentarians, so her government has decided to expand its army of socially awkward advocates prepared to take the case for Mrs May’s deal to the essential brownfield sites where its fate will be determined.

Government ministers have spread across the UK” Downing Street tweets, menacingly. The nation is now planted thick with Tory politicians in hard-hats and high-viz jackets, pointing at buckets and feigning serious interest in flywheels and gaskets as the axels and engine falls out of the bottom of this ghastly government. Our crepuscular chancellor Phil Hammond took himself off to a primary school on Friday to persuade the essential under 12s demographic of the benefits of the Northern Ireland backstop. Scotland Office minister Ian Duncan went eel-wrestling in Toomebridge. Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes is haunting the quays of Southampton. If this doesn’t do the trick, nothing will.

The Tories remain a house divided against itself. The DUP chunter on. And under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour continues to Hunt the Snark of a mythical Brexit deal which would somehow be better in every particular than Theresa May’s, while maintaining the incompatible red lines which transformed the Prime Minister’s deal into a hirpling, three-legged chimera in the first place.

This weekend finds Jeremy working the essential constituency of European Socialists in Lisbon. In defence of Bellman Corbyn’s attempts to encourage his crew and avoid any kind of uncomfortable confrontation with reality, once considerable Labour figures like Shami Chakrabarti are reduced to Trumpy bloviations about the impact of Mr Corbyn’s personal magnetism on our European counterparts. “I have been in the room when Jeremy Corbyn has met European counterparts and there’s such a positive atmosphere,” she told Radio 4 this week.

On Wednesday, Holyrood will get on with the day job, as Derek Mackay sketches out his budget Bill. Next Thursday? We’re back in court again. Seven justices of the UK Supreme Court will determine whether the Scottish Parliament’s Brexit Continuity Bill falls within Holyrood’s legislative competence. Theresa May’s Advocate General for Scotland, Baron Keen of Elie – owner of one small castle and one small firearms conviction – referred the legislation to the court back in April.

The legal issues were argued out in London in July. The UK Government says the Bill is outside of Holyrood’s competence under the Scotland Act. The UK legislation, they say, should apply instead. On the UK Government’s own evidence, it used the Scotland Act to exercise a pocket veto over a Holyrood Bill it didn’t like, and now relies on that veto to win its case.

When passed by the overwhelming majority of MSPs, the Bill was decried by the Tories – and Mike Rumbles – as an “illegal Bill” and “wretched, reckless and lamentable legislation”. From the quiet anxiety rumbling around Tory legal circles, the judgement of Lady Hale and her colleagues may disappoint the Scottish Tories.

But will any of it matter? In Britain’s new Brexit centrism, time and again, we’re reminded of the desperate irrelevance of Scottish institutions to every aspect of how Brexit has and will unfold. This week, Holyrood rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal by 92 votes to 29, with only the Scottish Tory group uniting to back their beleaguered leader’s accord with Brussels. Politically, this thumping majority had all the force of filling in a ScotRail online complaint form.

On Thursday, the First Minister revealed that the Home Office have declined to accept payments from the Scottish Government to cover the £65 it will cost each and every EU national living and working here to apply for settled status to continue to stay and contribute to the life of the NHS and our public services. The Home Office’s official explanation for declining these Scottish banknotes is – essentially – “computer says no”.

The Home Office’s groaning digital infrastructure isn’t accepting third-party payments. This will also block other sympathetic employers from putting their hands in their pockets to back up the residential status of their valued employees. But in the process, the May regime has – yet again – bureaucratically swatted away one of the few welcoming hands which have been extended to EU nationals living and working here since the demon engine of Brexit started spinning and they found their lives and place in our communities in new jeopardy.

So long as Scotland remains in the UK, however clear and bright Holyrood’s political voice may be, however much we dissent from the ruling orthodoxy in London, it will register barely a whisper in Whitehall, and be heard with barely even polite attention in Westminster. With the Union, we get whatever vision of Brexit Theresa May negotiated, however paltry. We get whatever Brexit the House of Commons majority agrees, however mad.

Here’s an unradical thought: we could do all of this differently. In Ireland, or Denmark, or Norway, those 92 Brexit votes would have meant something. We could take decisions following the values the overwhelming majority of Scots share. But here we sit, in the stalls, watching, shaking our heads – achieving nothing.