SOMEWHERE across the multiverse, a couple are sitting at the breakfast table laughing at how ludicrous it seemed to imagine that Donald Trump could have won the American presidency, how silly it was to think that the UK could ever have voted to leave the EU, and how laughable was the idea of Boris Johnson ever becoming prime minister. They finish their cornflakes, gulp down the rest of their morning cuppa, and go off to work in sanity and peace of mind.

Sadly that’s not the universe we live in, because collectively we must all have done something really dreadful in a previous incarnation.

Barring something unforeseen, like an asteroid destroying civilisation – although looking upon the wreckage of the British body politic you can only wonder whether anyone would notice any difference – by early this afternoon Boris Johnson will become the worst prime minister of the UK since the last one. Acres of angst-ridden words have been spilled about his many and manifest character flaws. Forests of trees have died to provide the newspaper on which to print them. Pundits have wailed and gnashed teeth on television, giving warnings of doom that Nostradamus would have been proud of. There is little point in adding any more to it. None of it has made the slightest bit of difference. Boris Johnson is being chosen as leader by the membership of the Conservative Party because of his flaws and failings, not despite them.

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The overwhelmingly white middle-class male, southern English and elderly members of the Conservative Party want someone they can relate to. They want the kind of chap with whom they’d share a drink in the golf club bar as they trade not very heavily coded tales of how things were so much better in the good old days. You know, the days when there weren’t so many foreigners, gays, or Muslims about. Or at least when such types knew their place and women made the tea. They want someone to restore the days when Britannia waived the rules and ruled the waves and Johnny Foreigner did as he was damned well told.

The blazered bores of the Tory Party want a chap, a hail-fellow-well-met, a bumptious practitioner of bonhomie, a character. They want someone who makes racist remarks with a wink and a joke, so that they can pretend to themselves and the rest of the world that laughing along with him doesn’t make them racist. It’s only a bit of a laugh, after all. And so the UK is getting as its leader a man who, if moral fibre could be spun into yarn and knitted, has not even enough to make an egg cosy for a quail’s egg.

We are all screwed. At least, the UK is screwed. Hence the panic among the likes of Gordie Broon, who has launched yet another intervention to inform the Scottish public that no matter how dreadful the UK might get, we’d be a bazillion times worse off with independence. Because with independence we’d not have the likes of Gordie to look after us, poor wee helpless waifs that we are, incapable of even having money like a normal country.

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That’s why we’re getting initiatives to promote the Union among the ungrateful Scots. Because the real problem here isn’t that the British ship of state is captained by fools and navigated by idiots who have all embarked on a voyage of personal self-enrichment and ego massages. It isn’t that not enough Union flags have been plastered on things. The real problem here is that SNP continually harping on about independence. It’s also why the new prime minister has decided to award himself the new title of Minister for the Union, and has promised to visit Scotland within a couple of days of assuming office. It’s as though the Tories imagine that all over this country there are people who were planning to vote for independence but now an Etonian has given himself a title they’re having second thoughts.

All of this amounts not so much to closing the Scottish stable door after the horse of Britishness has bolted, but after the horse has fled, tripped over a fence, broken its leg, been shot and melted down for glue. Deep down in whatever passes for their souls, the Conservatives know that too. There are real conversations going on all over Scotland just now. Sadly for the Tories they’re not the kind Ruth Davidson and David Mundell (if he’s still in his job by teatime) would like to hear.

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They’re conversations like the one that my parents had with some old friends a few days ago. Some older men they know, now into their late 70s and early 80s, who were solid No voters in 2014, are saying the prospect of Brexit and Boris Johnson has made them think again. In an ideal world they’d like to remain a part of the UK and the EU, but the UK Government is forcing them to choose. Given a choice between Brexit and Boris on the one hand, and Scottish independence and getting back into the EU on the other, they’re going to opt for independence.

Neither had previously considered they’d end up as Yes voters. They weren’t persuaded into it by a positive case for Yes, but neither were they put off by scare stories about the currency. They reached their decision because of the repeated failure of the British state to respect Scotland and what Scotland wanted. There are only so many times Britain can say it loves Scotland, that it respects Scotland, that the Union is precious. Eventually the British establishment has to follow those meaningless words with deeds that count. And Westminster has failed every time.

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Those of us who are already committed independence supporters will have plenty of work to do over the coming months. We can take nothing for granted. We are in for a rocky and tempestuous ride. But we can be certain that the message of independence is going to be well received in ears and minds that were previously closed to it. All over Scotland there are people who are coming to realise that the choice that Scotland has before it is a simple one. Do we want to be ruled in the UK by the Etonians, or to co-operate in the EU with the Estonians?