UNTIL now, the constitutional debate in Scotland has been about what sort of place we want Scotland to be.

No one can really say how the Brexit fiasco finally plays out, there is more stability in a house of cards in a hurricane than there is in British politics these days. Brexit is, however, terribly British, as British as a cup of tea. When you take the tea bag out, it goes directly in the bin. The difference is that the tea bag stays in the cup longer than any sense of certainty remains in British politics. You can turn on the news, catch up with the latest updates, then take the dug out for a poo and when you return you discover that one half of the Tory party has made a far bigger mess than your dog did. And just like your dog, they expect you to clear it up.

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However, what we can say with certainty is that Brexit has changed the terms of the Scottish debate forever. Brexit means that we no longer need to focus solely on what sort of place we want Scotland to be, we also need to talk about the kind of place that the UK has become and is becoming. We were told that the UK was the most stable democracy in the world. We were told that it was only by being a part of the UK that Scotland was protected against political extremism. We were told that Britain’s core values were tolerance and respect.

The National: Boris Johnson has broke the law over BrexitBoris Johnson has broke the law over Brexit

And now if we don’t have at least one constitutional crisis every other day we think it’s been a quiet week for the news. We’ve got Boris Johnson breaking the law, Parliament being sidelined while the BBC stands in a rainshower and tells us that a Number 10 source has told us that the sun is shining, and EU citizens are being forced to register with the Home Office under threat of deportation while reports of hate crimes soar.

It’s democracy! If three guys vote to rob you of your wallet, it’s democracy. But it’s still a mugging. It’s still a mugging when it’s carried out by ex-Eton schoolboys who lecture you about democracy and entitled elites.

Brexit has thrown up some questions for those of us who support independence, but it has thrown up far more for those who oppose it. We’ve learned that Unionists will be thrown under the bus by the British Government. If Scottish Unionism doesn’t mean standing up against the British Government in order to defend and further Scotland’s interests within the UK, then in practice Scottish Unionism can only mean subservience and even that offers no protection. It’s one thing telling Scotland that we ought to go along with whatever a world power tells us, especially when that world power graciously allows us to pretend that we’re a part of it. It’s quite another when we’re being told that we have to go along with a tawdry little delusion that’s only going to damage the economy for the benefit of disaster capitalists and result in the wrecking of employment and social rights. And all we get is the Scottish Tories telling us that we have a duty to delude ourselves too. If all you can offer as a defence of Scottish interests is Alister Jack telling us to suck up Brexit, then the Union is over.

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Brexit has taught Scotland that the UK is not a union of nations. It’s a unitary state with some devolved decoration. Scotland gets to be a puppet, playing a tartan role in a pageant so that British nationalists can tell themselves that they’re not nationalists at all and that a pretty Scottie dug and a kilt makes British nationalism different from English nationalism. We’ve learned the hard way that there is absolutely nothing in what passes for a British constitution to protect Scotland from the malign effects of right-wing English nationalism.

If this UK isn’t the UK that Scotland was told it was a part of in 2014, then there is already a sufficient material change in circumstances to justify another independence referendum irrespective of what happens with Brexit. You don’t get to sell a product by lying about its characteristics and qualities, and then complain because the customer wants their money back.

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Opponents of independence are very good at posing questions to independence supporters, but they too have questions to answer. How exactly are you going to continue to use the pound when it’s fallen so far in value that it is on a par with the dollar? Do you really think that the UK will ever get back into the EU when the question of Brexit has toxified British politics and the rest of the EU looks upon the UK as a plague victim that needs to be quarantined?

How exactly is the UK going to ensure that Scotland’s voice is recognised and respected? What constitutional measures will be introduced in order to protect Scotland from rampant English nationalism? Where’s the federalism fairy who was supposed to have arrived a few years ago? How can you drive through the necessary constitutional change required to protect Scotland within the UK when the rest of the UK is quite happy with telling Scotland to put up or shut up?

Why should Scotland’s right to debate its own future be subject to a veto from a Prime Minister that Scotland didn’t elect? Because if that last point is true, then Scotland isn’t a partner in a union at all. Most importantly of all, on what basis do the anti-independence parties feel that a mandate from Scotland’s voters for another referendum can be ignored, but a mandate from voters in the rest of the UK to leave the EU cannot?

Questions, questions. The problem for opponents of independence is that independence supporters can articulate a clear vision of the kind of Scotland that this country can become, but they can’t give us a vision of the kind of country Scotland can become if we remain a part of the UK. Because that’s not within their gift. One of the reasons why opponents of independence are so desperate to avoid another referendum is because they know that they don’t have any answers to the questions that will be put to them.