WHATEVER your view of Theresa May – and mine is somewhat unsympathetic given her absolute refusal to compromise no matter how hard the Scottish Government tried to meet her halfway – the public distress and downfall of any human being is never pleasant to watch.

I have no doubt she did her best to deliver what she thought the Brexit vote required, but politics is, as Thatcher is alleged to have said when she left office, a “rough old trade”. It is unfortunately a truism that almost all political careers end in failure, or appear that way at the moment of resignation or defeat.

History will eventually come to a verdict but what is immediately indisputable is that she is yet another Tory prime minister hobbled, haunted and in the end harried from office because of her party’s destructive civil war over Europe – an obsession which also illustrates the profound divergence of Scottish and English politics in the past half-century.

In the 1975 European referendum Scotland produced a more negative result than England when asked about membership of what was then the Common Market. In Scotland the proposition was passed but with only 58% in favour and with two counting areas – Shetland and the Western Isles – against. In England the vote for membership was 10% higher.

The campaign and the issues were not exactly the same as they were 41 years later and the SNP, it has to be admitted, recommended a “No” vote because Scotland had not been consulted on the membership terms – but in June 2016 the comparison was strikingly different. This time, England voted against by 53% to 47% while Scotland recorded 62% in favour of remaining.

Moreover, recent polls have shown that public opinion in Scotland is even more positive three years on from the vote.

Political opinion is different too. In the Scottish Parliament before the 2016 vote there were only a handful of members who backed Leave.

Immediately after the vote, flip-flop Ruth Davidson vocally supported a very soft Brexit which would have involved remaining in the single market and the customs union and although she has since hardened her stance, no doubt under instructions from Westminster, the other parties have continued to co-operate on a broad anti-Brexit front.

There are now strong Brexiteers in the Tory MSP ranks, but it is obvious from Holyrood debates that these are in a minority – though internal Scottish party solidarity does not allow contrary opinions to be voiced, unlike the complete breakdown of such restraint in the House of Commons.

There is still some opposition in Scotland to EU membership. The fishing communities of the North East, for example, continue to blame the Common Fisheries Policy for the decline in their industry, although they should also be blaming the enthusiastic overinterpretation of that policy by successive Tory governments.

There will be many reasons for this increasingly positive take on Europe. Experience of EU funding programmes which have done so much good and the establishment of a modern outward-looking democracy as a result of having our own parliament will have helped.

But what may have set the seal on the issue more recently is the example of Ireland during the Brexit process. It was given strong support and effective solidarity from its fellow EU members. Scotland has been undermined or ignored by its main partner in the UK.

Now the divergence on Europe is to be put to its sternest test. The election of a hard-line Brexiteer to lead the Tories is all but certain. The preference for a “no deal” remains strong among Tories and if tonight’s EU results show, in England, a triumph for Farage, then Scottish enthusiasm for membership will be trampled underfoot by the UK Tory rush to get out as quickly as possible.

That is why giving Scotland a democratic choice is so important. The infection of Tory Euroscepticism hasn’t taken root here, but the disastrous effects of it are the cause of the political meltdown at Westminster and are already costing us all very dear.

For our national wellbeing we must reject such an approach and stay in the European mainstream, not be left behind, bobbing about in what will be a very British backwater.