BORIS Johnson is of course only half-right when he says that a no-deal Brexit is the option closest to the desires of the British people. If he’d said that it was closest to the desires of the English and Welsh people he’d have been completely correct. With statements such as these the events of the referendum on Scottish independence do seem like a lifetime ago.

Then, the English and Westminster establishments (the two are interchangeable now) went to extraordinary lengths to show Scots that our country was a valued and equal part of the Union and that the United Kingdom would be severely weakened with Scotland’s departure. Now, it seems that in the space of little more than four years Scotland has become a non-country and never to be mentioned again in polite society.

Throughout the UK Government’s Brexit negotiations with the EU, Scotland’s wishes were routinely ignored and its presence hardly tolerated at all. The way Westminster moved the goalposts on the Sewel Convention and contemptuously dismissed Holyrood sovereignty in issues about returning powers from Brussels was extraordinary. But for Scottish Government ministers who had seen monthly meetings of the Joint Ministerial Council routinely being cancelled by their counterparts at Westminster this was hardly surprising. Throughout the post-Brexit process this country, which voted overwhelmingly to remain part of the EU, has been treated as a vassal state. Scotland didn’t even rate a mention among the 585 pages of Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement. In Scotland we have been left holding the jackets as England and its elected representatives continue to befoul themselves in their reaction to a few handfuls of refugees fleeing police brutality in France and certain death and torture in their countries of origin. The behaviour of the Home Secretary Sajid Javid and the right-wing press over the little bundles of wretched humanity coming ashore at Dover has been truly disgusting. This is what the people of England voted for and it’s why Boris Johnson is right in his assertion that a no-deal Brexit truly represents their wishes.

Let’s not kid ourselves here that English working-class communities didn’t know what they were voting for or that they didn’t really grasp the issues. This is condescending nonsense. For them it was all about stopping immigration and battening down the hatches. It was about showing Europe who was really the boss and reviving the spirit of English football hooligans on manoeuvres in the 1980s and 1990s. God help the poor citizens of whichever town or city hosts England’s first away game in Europe after March 29.

England’s working classes have shown an unwavering trust in their political bosses that has continued down through centuries even when they have suffered grievously for their misplaced faith. Somehow, England’s rulers have been able to spin a tale of English greatness that includes its most disadvantaged citizens. With the endless waging of economic wars of adventure and with the help of a ready and willing royal family, the gaze of England’s poorest citizens has been permanently averted. They seem to have been anaesthetised into ignoring their own circumstances and deluded into thinking that if they could just make life difficult for the foreigners or – better still – prevent them from coming here at all, that there will be sustainable and well paying jobs for all.

Not so long ago I predicted that the English hard right will target ready-made scapegoats if some of the gloomiest post-Brexit economic predictions materialise. The French and the Germans will be blamed for imposing a punitive deal on us and those foreigners still living in the UK will feel the wrath of mobs whipped up by Johnson, Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg and their new ally Tommy Robinson.

I now feel that I was a few months out in my predictions. The clamour for Royal Navy gunboats to deal with a few dozen refugees in the English Channel was closely followed by the right-wing flash mobs which have been harassing and intimidating Remain supporters such as the Conservative MP Anna Soubry. The police have not moved a finger to intervene. In its streets and in the halls of Westminster England is now in the grip of a hard-right militia. For decades the mentality of the far-right mob was shunned by the mainstream and excluded from civilised discourse. Brexit has now legitimised them and let them come screeching out of the bottle while the BBC has given them a platform. They won’t be going back any time soon.

Sky-high backing for Billy

I SINCERELY hope the bosses at Glasgow Airport heed the public mood throughout this city and rename it for Billy Connolly. Happily, the recent gloomy predictions about the Big Yin’s allotted time on this earth were scotched by the man himself who said that he wasn’t “dead or dying” following last week’s rather moody documentary about him.

Even so, it would be nice for the naming ceremony of the new Billy Connolly Airport to be conducted in the presence of the great man himself.

There are some curmudgeons who insist that such honours should only be conferred posthumously.

Yet, there were few arguments when our newest and most expensive hospital was named after a queen who has probably never heard of any of the districts it will serve.

We didn’t even get to know why it was decided that Britain’s richest benefits recipient should have this accolade or even if there was a due process involved. It all seemed to be a big secret.

The National:

Celtic shame SFA and take lead on women’s football

TOWARDS the end of last year I had some harsh words to say about the Scottish football establishment and its treatment of women’s football. Until last month there were no fully professional players in the women’s game despite the huge growth in the numbers of women and girls playing football. The Scottish women’s football team have somehow managed to overcome this handicap by qualifying for the World Cup to be held in France in June.

There are tens of millions of pounds swirling around Scottish football whose executives like to paint a picture of begging-bowl poverty when justifying the latest dross produced by our male international team. I’ve never witnessed a Scottish football executive who couldn’t be described as affluent and “well looked after”. The Scottish football press rarely hold to account those who run the game in this country and so the income streams and their final resting places are rarely scrutinised.

The National:

It seemed mystifying that none of the huge sums of money pumped in by television companies and the vultures of the online gambling industry could not have been used to fund a few full-time positions for Scotland’s women’s footballers.

Now Celtic have moved to address this sexist funding deficit by establishing Scotland’s first full-time women’s football club.

It is a fitting move by a club that was founded to alleviate poverty in Glasgow and to combat inequality and discrimination against Catholics from Ireland. Celtic were also one of the first Scottish clubs to embrace the principals of the Tie campaign and its supporters annually donate tens of thousands to food banks in Glasgow’s east end.

I also hope that Celtic’s move will shame the Scottish Football Association into providing funds for more full-time women’s players all across Scotland. The SFA’s purpose is to foster football for all and not merely for male elites.