THE lecture given by Sir John Major at Glasgow University to the John Smith Centre for Public Service on Tuesday was a ripsnorter. An excoriation of the hard Brexiteer extremists in his own party and the “hollowing out” of its moderate centre reflected what millions now feel when they watch the global embarrassment that is Westminster politics and government now.

He was trumped only by the bicycling worker at Honda in Swindon the night before who stopped as he left the factory to give an interview to Channel 4 news. Having just been told he and thousands of others were to lose their jobs, he described the UK’s Brexit calamity as “idiocy of epic proportions”.

READ: Former Prime Minister John Major's full Scottish lecture

He is living the reality now of what will be visited on communities across the country because the extremist tail is wagging the ailing dog of the Tory party. And so dismal is the official opposition that Labour is behind the worst government in living memory in the polls.

The privileged extremes of left and right play politics while the core of Britain’s economy and therefore society will be set alight by a monumental episode of self-harm.

As Major argued, the core governing failure of the Prime Minister was to trigger Article 50 without having any clue about what she wanted to happen next. With days now left to exit there is still no clarity or clue. But what there is are real world choices affecting now thousands and soon potentially millions of jobs, lives and wellbeing.

And for what? To change what? To seize back control of what? Where does this end? What is the message to the country and the world about the values of the Britain being forged in this chaos?

The UK parties are broken, possibly irrevocably. The extremists are in charge and the Liberal Democrats are so bad that we have Tory and Labour politicians now sitting in the same group rather than with them.

We are about to crash out of the European Union without a plan of any sorts. The vote itself took place without any prospectus, any vision, any plan.

The Rolls-Royce machine of Britain’s professional civil service and diplomatic core are both internationally embarrassed and collectively polishing their CVs for new jobs.

Meanwhile businesses are spending fortunes relocating jobs and investment out of the UK to continental Europe. Staff shortages are crippling public services and will put this year’s harvest at risk in many places. These are realities.

Later today the Scottish Government’s chief economist is expected to publish his own analysis of the potential impact of this fiasco on Scotland’s economy and jobs.

It’s “eye-wateringly bad” in its outlook.

No wonder John Major also had this to say: “Leaving the EU will make an independent Scotland more likely than if we remained in the EU. Scotland voted to stay in the UK – and in Europe. Yet English and Welsh votes are now taking Scotland out of Europe against their will. Scotland cannot apply to re-join unless they gain independence. The incentive to try again is clear.”

I am not suggesting that he wants this to happen, he does not. But his logic is clear and a reality that is opening minds across Scotland now to the possibility of the same conclusion.

We live in history-defining times. The United Kingdom and the institutions that define it are teetering and undermined. There is no vision for the future at all. It is dismal.

Scotland deserves the option and opportunity to create its own future. Doing so will take clever policy and planning and significant effort and hard work. It will take truth and honesty. It will take time. It will be worth it.

Travel critics are thinking small

“HOW dare the First Minister travel to first America and now Paris to promote Scotland’s economic and social interests. Far better for Scotland that Jeremy Hunt and Liam Fox promote Scotland as part of the outstanding job they do every day around the world for this, our United Kingdom. The idea that we should be trying to promote Scottish exports, inward investment and talent migration is a complete miss-use of public money and the time of the First Minister”.

The National:

Said no serious person ever. Oppositions should oppose of course, but we really need to present an ambitious unified voice to the world. The criticism of the First Minister travelling internationally is profoundly small.

ScotRef could come ‘very quickly’

LAST week’s column stirred a reaction which can be a great positive for the debate and the newspaper. But one thing is worth me setting the record straight on. At no point last week did I say anything about going soft or slow on the timing of any future vote.

READ MORE: Andrew Wilson: Next Scottish White Paper will learn from 2014 – and from Brexit

As I have argued in previous weeks, the case needs to be readied purposefully and the focus should be on persuading the persuadable. Timing should be determined by the First Minister when her Government and the Parliament judges that the country is ready to choose. And for the avoidance of doubt, this could come very quickly indeed.

We need to understand exactly what is going to happen with Brexit so that we can set out all the answers to all the reasonable questions the persuadable want to ask.

The “soft” point I made was using the language of Brexit that people can understand to argue that I think we should offer a prospectus that sets out a clear and honest picture of what the transition to a new country will look like and how it will work practically.

This way not only can we ensure we protect and promote people’s jobs, wages, mortgages and pensions but also articulate the truth of what we will build and why it will be worth the effort.

I think people will vote positively (and in big numbers) for truth and a rigorous plan. I strongly believe that adopting a hard Brexiteer style is economically, politically and morally a bad call.

I also think we need to think, all of the time, about both winning big and then managing what happens afterwards in the interests of the welfare of all.

We must be the opposite of the Brexiteers and adopt a tone of balance, persuasion and understanding.

If some can’t even do that to people on the same side as them then what chance will we have? Time for composure and unity of purpose rather than playing to the galleries of those that already agree. Watch Westminster right now and you can see where that leads.