STREET party rained off. Bunting drookit. Status: still, reluctantly, European. How did you spend your Brexit Day? Glued to the dysfunctional proceedings of the House of Commons? Smashing commemorative 29th of March ashtrays? Punching Victoria sponges in mute fury? Spanking over London bridge with Livingston True Blues loyalist flute band? Just walking dully along?

In Westminster on Friday, one Tory MP suggested the British people would be “wondering why the steeple bells are not pealing out this evening”. Another lamented having no pretext to crack open the champagne, as Theresa May’s third vote on the Withdrawal Agreement foundered, and Britain remained an EU state – for the moment.

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All is uncertainty now. On Monday, MPs will continue to wargame their many competing preferences on where the United Kingdom goes from here. According to the European Commission, “a ‘no-deal’ scenario on April 12 is now a likely scenario”.

One of the few certainties is that the Prime Minister’s days in office are numbered. Having hobbled her leadership in the forlorn hope of inching her deal over the line, the party factions are mobilising. Tory rules encourage early knock-outs and tactical game-playing. It is for the 314 Conservative MPs in Westminster to decide who will make the final run-off. Members will have the final word on which of the gruesome twosome take the crown.

So let’s throw our minds forward to the outcome of that process. If you have any aptitude for schadenfreude, it will be a choice moment. Picture the scene. The votes have been cast. In a spray of flywheels and sprockets, Theresa May has finally been pried from office, left quietly to rust in some picturesque wheat field in middle England.

And in London, the faithful gather to welcome their new leader to Downing Street. After the usual briefings, backstabbings, debates and revelations, Tory MPs whittle down the contenders to replace May. They submit themselves to the judgment of the party’s 124,000 members (average vintage: 87 and 3/4s; average sanity level: sub median). And now, it is the victor’s day.

Burly police officers scan the Whitehall crowd. Representatives of the media form scrum formation. A forest of lenses sprout to capture the moment. A bloom of Union flags flutters in the spring breeze, as party activists cheer on their new leader. And cresting the throng – the shock of gold hair, the trundle that speaks of a low-slung gusset – the new First Lord of the Treasury, the Right Honourable Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson PC, enters Downing Street as the new Prime Minister.

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At this point, some kind of psychic scream might seem appropriate. But if you listen carefully, someone else will be howling closer to home. In Scottish Tory HQ, party spinner Eddie Barnes will sit down with Ruth Davidson to consider The Line To Take on her new party leader. What will she say?

We know what she said she’d say. The Scottish Tories have been briefing against Johnson since David Cameron left office. In the summer of 2016, Ruth Davidson let it be known that if the former Mayor of London became PM, the Scottish Tories would be obliged to “do a Murdo” and unilaterally declare independence from the Conservative and Unionist Party.

The National: Ruth Davidson would have a dilemma if Boris Johnson became PMRuth Davidson would have a dilemma if Boris Johnson became PM

So on that happy day – if and when – the frabjous Mr Johnson takes office, what will the Scottish Tory leadership do? Will they follow through on their threats and menaces? The optics look a little challenging, to put it mildly. How can you credibly argue that we’re better together in this Union, when the Scottish Tory reaction to their own Prime Minister is to rush for the exit door? It was a risky gambit in 2016 for Ruth Davidson to threaten secession. They got lucky. Andrea Leadsom blew her own campaign. They didn’t love – but could live – with May. My best guess? The notoriously mobile Scottish Tory leader will bottle it. The script might go something like this.

“It is well known that Boris and I have had our differences in the past.” Pause here for knowing, cheeky chappy twinkle™. “But if the Brexit process has taught us one thing, it is that this precious union cannot be taken for granted. We have to work for it every day. It can be hard work. We have our disagreements. I intend to be frank with the Prime Minister where we disagree. But we also share common values and a common belief that Scotland’s future is in our shared United Kingdom. Statement ends.”

She’ll smile, and the smile won’t reach her eyes. She’ll say it, but choke on it.

Better to avoid this uncomfortable eventuality, the Scottish Tories are going bananas this weekend. Unable to exert any sway to speak of on the wider membership of their party, their best and only strategy is to keep Johnson off the ballot paper. To this end, they’re trying to get their retaliation in first, striving to smash the fantasy I’ve just sketched out to you before it can gather its ectoplasm.

According to that hardy perennial – the anonymous Scottish Tory MP courageously briefing against their colleagues – Johnson “is disliked intensely in Scotland and would gift-wrap independence for Nicola Sturgeon”. This time remembering to put country before party, a second source told the Herald, “if Boris becomes PM, it would be a disaster for Scotland and the Conservatives”.

Others have gone reluctantly on record. Pressed about Johnson’s suitability for high office on BBC Scotland’s Debate Night, South Scotland MSP Michelle Ballantyne said “there’s a recognition that Boris Johnson would not play well in Scotland. I think we all recognise that.”

She added: “Having a Prime Minister who is interested about Scotland, who cares about Scotland, is important to us.”

We’ve been here before. Back in October last year, the Scottish party formed a secret cell under the friendly title of “Operation Arse”. The arse in question was Mr Johnson’s, and the operation was the Scottish Tory effort to persuade colleagues south of the Border to elect more or less anyone else. The only public dissenter from this inhumation mission was Johnson cosplayer Ross Thomson, who branded his colleagues “arseholes” for their leadership manoeuvrings. We can only assume that Scottish Tory sphincters are tightening again.

Their anxieties seem well founded. The party ran the numbers in internal polling back in 2018, inviting the Scottish public to react to the prospect of Johnson in Number 10. They concluded that Boris’s tangled headship might cost the party 12 of their 13 Westminster seats and throw further barbs on to the path of thorns lying between Ruth Davidson and any serious pitch for Bute House. You can understand why these findings might focus minds. It is difficult to believe Boris Johnson’s appeal is wider and deeper with Scots now than it was last year.

There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip. Johnson might screw it up again. Perhaps MPs – antipathetic to him – will conspire to keep him out of the final two. The victor might be any one of the deeply malign bunch of doughballs, cynics, halfwits, self-deceivers, self-promoters, lunatics, heartless ghouls, heart-felt ghouls, carrion-crawlers, chancers, crooks, dogwhistlers, oddballs and blazered weirdos likely to be in contention.

Whether it is Gove or Leadsom, Johnson or Raab, whichever character emerges as the victor, Ruth Davidson’s party will be left pondering their own identity crisis – a crisis which Theresa May’s leadership only deferred. The question is this: are they truly a distinct party with distinct identity and politics, or just a local branch, marching in lock step with their southern colleagues?

Thus far, Davidson has tried to speak in both voices, selectively associating herself with and distancing herself from the work of her London colleagues, as self-interest tends. She wants to take the credit, and to avoid responsibility for the unpopular decisions. This constructive ambiguity cannot be sustained forever. Boris or not, when Theresa May’s ankles finally rust through, for Scottish Tories, there’s no avoiding the discord.