AFTER not giving a toss for years, leading Tories are now falling over themselves to claim that Scotland matters to them. Just as polls show a rise in support for Scottish independence and a majority are in favour of holding a second independence referendum, suddenly the penny has dropped. England is leaving the United Kingdom.

For a majority of Tory Party members delivering Brexit is more important than keeping Scotland part of the UK.

Finally realising that they are the handmaidens of Scottish independence, senior Tories are warning that that the Union is under strain.

This week senior Tories cared so much about Scotland that they came north on a day trip. Never before has so much “passion” been invoked for something so “precious”, since Gollum hit the screens in ‘Lord of the Rings”. Never before has something sounded so hollow and ridiculous.

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Although he’s been in government for years, Jeremy Hunt’s passion for the Union has only become apparent as he seeks the votes of Conservative Party members to become Tory leader and prime minister.

For him having “Scottish blood” is a qualification for something. To most normal people in 21st-century Scotland it sounds faintly unhinged.

This is the Foreign Secretary who is so passionate about Scotland that he has been so petty as to order British embassies to stop assisting Scottish government ministers. This is a somebody seeking democratic election, by pledging to refuse people in Scotland the democratic right to determine their future.

Meanwhile, after a career of being grossly insulting to Scots (and many others besides) Boris Johnson thinks he is going to save the Union by delivering Brexit. By being prepared to crash our economy and take us out of Europe against our democratic will, we will somehow think this is a better option than being a normal independent country.

This is the buffoon who has been sacked twice for lying, used racist language and has had a record so bad as London mayor he’s criticised by his own senior former town hall colleagues.

This week’s grotesque Tory roadshow started with Prime Minister Theresa May who chose to come to Scotland on Independence Day to warn against ... errr ... independence.

In her first visit to Scotland since last November, she also invoked the Gollum mantra of her “precious” Union (again).

One of the best descriptions of her speech came from John Crace in the Guardian: “After a short pause to wipe a speck of dust from her eye, May resumed her narrative. The Scots had been allowed the indulgence of an independence referendum back in 2014, the voters had chosen to stay part of the UK and now it was time for everyone to move on. Try to look at that referendum as a meaningless one night stand and recommit to the marriage. Besides, it had been the English that had bailed out the Scottish banks during the financial crisis and the English that had supported the oil industry when the price had collapsed, so it would be nice if the Scots could just be a bit more grateful for what they had got. This understandably went down like a cup of wet sick.”

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In the space of less than one week, the outgoing Prime Minister and both candidates to be her successor have proven how unfit they are to govern Scotland (and frankly the rest of the UK too). In word and deed, they reminded people in Scotland how little they understand this country, and that Tory Brexit Britain is not in our future interests.

If they cared about devolution they would have worked with the Scottish Government, instead of ignoring it, and in Northern Ireland they would have worked to restore devolved institutions, not cozy up to the DUP. If they wanted to square the Brexit circle with Remain-voting Northern Ireland and Scotland they would have taken the challenge of the border in Ireland and the desire to remain in the single market more seriously.

The thing that Hunt and Johnson really care about is their own ambitions. That is what is genuinely precious to them. They have both served as senior Cabinet ministers for years. They have had ample opportunity to show how precious the Union is to them in their actions. They have both failed.

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Scotland deserves better than this. A growing number of people who were not convinced before about the necessity for independence, now realise it is the only way to avoid being misruled by these chancers and charlatans.

No wonder support for Scottish independence is on the rise.