THERE was something almost biblical in the way in which the Prime Minster’s desire to win a triumphant endorsement of his “great new deal” was stymied at the eleventh hour by the very people to whom he has been sucking up with enthusiasm ever since he decided to use Brexit as the means to gain the ultimate political prize.

Not only were the DUP MPs the key votes for the Letwin amendment, the passage of which meant that Johnson was sent back to 10 Downing St, muttering darkly about defying the law, but their anger was plain to see. They had discovered once again the truth of Sir Edward Carson’s plaintive cry when he wrote in 1921:

“What a fool I was. I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into power.”

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The principle of democratic consent is at the heart of the Brexit issue for the DUP, just as it is for Scotland, but in two very different ways.

The DUP have been lied to about the border in the Irish Sea and to add insult to injury, Johnson lied to their faces at their own conference.

The National: Boris Johnson: LiarBoris Johnson: Liar

Their base vote will never forgive that but there is also a more practical political problem for the DUP leadership because the consent mechanism outlined in the new Withdrawal Agreement removes their veto on what is, essentially, an institutionalised backstop.

The DUP are aware that they do not speak for the majority in Northern Ireland but up until now their position (and that of Sinn Fein) has been protected by the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements. This has however led to a paralysis in the NI political system, leading many to argue that without abandoning the entire principle of cross community consent, it is important that straight majorities should now also sometimes suffice in key matters, a position espoused by, amongst others, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in the recent debates about the restoration of devolution.

Consequently, a mixture of cross community and straight majority consent is now written into the Withdrawal Agreement, against the wishes of the DUP.

Various UK Government ministers rightly trumpet this approach, as ensuring that “the future of Northern Ireland will be decided by Northern Ireland” and taken alongside the many financial and societal advantages of remaining in much of the Single Market and benefitting from the EU Customs and tax zones it is little wonder that all except the DUP want to grab it with both hands if they cannot just stay in the EU, as most in Northern Ireland and Scotland plainly want.

But across the Irish Sea – just 12 miles across at the narrowest point – things are very different. The concessions to Northern Ireland will undoubtedly place the whole of Scotland at a significant disadvantage.

It will do so in many different ways. Not only will there be damage to investment and employment and new customs problems to be dealt with at Stranraer but it may also turn out, for example, to be financially beneficial for Scottish fishermen to register in North Ireland and land their catches there, decimating the processing sector in Scotland.

No one is disputing that politics, geography and most of all recent history demand that Northern Ireland gets a special deal which keeps the border open and guarantees that democratic consent and a generous acceptance of difference are absolutely central to the health and peaceful future of the island of Ireland.

But acknowledging that reality does not change the fact that Scotland has argued for almost exactly the same arrangement since December 2016 and has been met with neglect, contempt and rejection by two Prime Ministers – and still is.

The National: Ian Blackford stumped JohnsonIan Blackford stumped Johnson

That was seen again yesterday when Ian Blackford’s question to the Prime Minister about the need for Scottish consent elicited a typically bombastic Johnsonian response that started with the announcement of the result of a rugby match involving England.

Nonetheless, Johnson looked very uncomfortable when having to address the basic unfairness and lack of democratic equity that lies at the root of this issue in questions from several SNP MPs.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay looked equally wrong footed, not least because in trying, typically, to be too cleverly sneering by half, he wrongly asserted that Johnson’s deal honoured the result of not one, but two referenda in Scotland. In fact, in terms of Scotland’s choice of continuing EU membership, it does the opposite.

If consent is necessary for Northern Ireland (and it is) then it must be necessary for Scotland as well.

Democratic equality and fair dealing demand it, as does the simple fact that Brexit has been rejected again and again by a majority of MSPs and Scottish MPs. Opinion polls show a continuing strong desire to remain in the EU and increasing support for the right to choose between a full, hard British Brexit (which is what Johnson’s deal is) and the normality of independence as a full member of the EU.

That support will continue to grow as – if the Brexit deal is eventually passed – it becomes more and more clear that the aim of the Tories is to ensure that any free-trade deal with the EU is rudimentary, that the UK completes its transition at the end of 2020 no matter what is agreed or not agreed and that any continuing alignment on workers rights, social protections and environmental standards is weakened and then eliminated.

Brexit has been a roller coaster ride into the unknown.

All of us are well beyond our comfort zones and of course it would be good to have it finished with. But we can never allow the very foundation of our democracy to be undermined and swept away.

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“No man” said Abraham Lincoln “is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent”.

Scotland has repeatedly said that Johnson and his gang of cronies are nowhere good enough to govern us. So now we must choose how we will be governed.