IN a BBC interview on Wednesday – the day when matricide was committed on an ageing and infirm mother of parliaments by the UK Prime Minister – professor Meg Russell, from the Constitution Unit at University College London said this:

Westminster could shut the Scottish Parliament down at any time. Of course it doesn’t do so, that would be politically unacceptable. But once you’ve got a government which is thinking that the only thing that matters are the legal constraints then the gloves are off."

In normal times the fact that Westminster, which still fortifies its fading glory with an almost medieval claim to its own sovereignty, could at a whim overrule and indeed abolish devolution has seemed irrelevant.

Politics dictated that it was not only unthinkable but also undoable. Times have changed. The complete indifference of the current UK Tory government to opinions other than its own means that the unthinkable is happening on a daily basis. Anything and everything is doable, in their view.

When serious No-Deal planning started last year, I privately asked a senior UK Government minister if the Cabinet or the civil service had, or were considering, plans to suspend devolution in the event of a No-Deal emergency.

He strongly denied it, adding a good practical reason. The Scottish Government was far better placed to deliver the detail of arrangements in its own areas of responsibility, he maintained, and interfering would almost certainly make things worse for both sides during what would be a very serious crisis.

I doubt there is any such common sense still around the Cabinet table in 10 Downing Street and, as the First Minister said last week, it is therefore likely that the suspension of our Parliament has already been gamed by Cummings & Co and would be attempted – preferably without Westminster involvement – if Scotland was seen to be in any way obstructive to their extreme Brexit.

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But before they do, they need to be aware that any such move would be met with a clear, organised, firm and effective response. Westminster has abolished parliaments before. For example in 1800 the Irish parliament ceased to exist and of course devolution in Northern Ireland has been suspended more than once.

But the difference is that in 1800 the then-members of the Irish parliament were, in the majority, happy to see it go, keen as they were for bribes in Dublin and preferment in London.

And in Northern Ireland the means for reconvening lay, and still lies, in the hands of the members themselves.

Certainly it would be important that civic Scotland, companies and citizens rallied to defend Holyrood, but history shows us that the lead must come from within – and that is what I am confident would happen.

It goes without saying that the SNP MSPs would act and I am sure that the Greens would do so too. That already means a majority would refuse to accept such a process.

I hope that Labour and the Liberals would follow suit. But would any Tory defy their prime minister? Or would they, in a final act of political suicide, connive in their own expulsion from the places they were sent to fill not by their party at Westminster but by the people of Scotland?

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It is clear what all MSPs should do. They should continue to meet. The Scottish Government should continue in office and the Parliament should continue to transact normal business.

Scottish democracy must be true to, and assert, its basic roots. Lord Cooper’s famous 1953 judgment asserting the sovereignty of the people of Scotland will come alive if MSPs, leading from the front but backed by all other parts of Scottish society, refuse to acknowledge the right of Westminster to decide how we govern ourselves.

A Parliament is much more than a building. It is the expression of the wishes and dreams of a nation. It is the glue that binds us together and the hope that drives us forward.

A Parliament belongs not to the politicians but to the people so the people would be right to demand that their representatives answer to them, not to anyone else , and get on with the day job.

And if they try to take the Holyrood chamber, or even St Andrews House from us, so be it. My colleagues and I would be happy to meet and work in the shadow of hedgerow, for as long as it took to face down those whose lack of right to rule here is now being demonstrated in their every action.

Michael Russell is the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Constitutional Relations