ON the bright side, we have a result. The UK will not leave the EU on October 31.

I ken it’s not been officially declared by a man wearing a gold-edged, red skirt, blowing a trumpet and walking backwards as he reads a declaration penned in the blood of a three legged-boar – or whatever inane ceremony the Commons reserves for such an occasion.

But remaining in the UK on Halloween looks 99.8% likely.

Beyond that, our future is completely uncertain and there’s nothing the quick-thinking band of SNP MPs, or returning MSPs, or even the clear-sighted Court of Session can do about it. I realise that sounds defeatist, but maybe it’s not. Maybe recognition of our current impotence is the only way we can persuade fellow Scots of devolution’s abject failure.

As part of the UK, Scots can persuade, cajole and work day and night to embolden British opposition parties – but still find no way to protect or assert the will of the sovereign Scottish people.

It’s time to lay that weakness bare. Even if the admission hurts our pride – it’s the truth.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson will ignore Scottish Parliament on Brexit Bill vote

The joint press conference with Nicola Sturgeon and the Labour Welsh First Minister yesterday underlined the limitations of both devolved institutions. The meeting was historic and significant. Both first ministers reminded Boris Johnson that his Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) needs the consent of Holyrood and Cardiff to continue. If the devolved governments reject it, another piece of history would be made, if the legal, legislative and democratic conventions governing Britain were worth the paper they aren’t written on. But even Rory the Tory has forgotten that nations entered the Treaty of Union, not cities – even cities as large as London. And Boris Johnson just sneers at hard-won, power-sharing arrangements that don’t fit his “gamed” version of the world. At Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, he told Ian Blackford that Holyrood has “no role” in the Withdrawal Bill process and that its approval is entirely a matter for Westminster.

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That is patently untrue. But short of asking her MPs to walk out of Westminster – and it’s a move worth considering, even though they were not elected on an abstentionist ticket like Sinn Fein – what can Nicola Sturgeon do? The WAB contains Henry VIII clauses and power grabs which mean Westminster can render the Scottish Government and Parliament quite toothless once the bill gets passed.

The collective instinct of Yes activists is to stand up for ourselves and keep supporting elected representatives who’ve proved they can think cannily, team up with like-minded folk, argue coherently and passionately – but in the end, their superhuman efforts only get Scotland as far as the dismissive UK Government and terminally feart opposition will allow.

And both of them are stuck in near-terminal stalemate.

On Tuesday, MPs voted down the ludicrously short timetable proposed by the Government to debate the Withdrawal Bill and once the EU gives another extension (as Michel Barnier says he’s advised member states to do) the Prime Minister must accept.

The National:

But the big question is – what will he do with the extra time?

Will Boris jettison “do or die”, avoid the ditch, remain alive, swallow his words and persevere with getting the deal through Parliament – using the “big boy did it and ran away” classic to explain why he breached the Rubicon of Halloween?

If he does, and the Bill stumbles through, will he call a General Election early next year, clutching his shiny new law – or go for broke now, heading for the polls before Christmas? Meanwhile, is the confirmatory referendum option stone dead or could it still be attached as an amendment to the bill somewhere down the line?

Really, fa kens.

On Tuesday, Labour said they would vote for an election once an extension was “agreed”. Yesterday’s formulation was subtly different – “once the threat of a No-Deal crash-out is off the table.”

Since we know the Government could effectively crash out Britain if a Free Trade Agreement isn’t agreed in the years ahead, does that mean Labour rejects having an election till December 2020 or even 2022?

But as ever with Labour, why have one hard-to-explain position when you can have two? Jeremy Corbyn wants more time to discuss the WAB but imposed a three-line whip on his MPs to vote against it. So why bother eeking the process out, unless Corbyn really is terrified of going to the polls? More debate only makes sense if Labour is planning something bold, like amending the bill into something safer and then attaching a second confirmatory referendum to it, as Brexit spokesperson Keir Starmer pledged to do on Sunday. That would mean the WAB is only finally enacted after it’s been one option in a second public vote, against the option to Remain. Is that what Labour’s saying?

Mebbes aye, probably no.

Disappointing is too small a word.

But Labour aren’t the only side stalling.

According to the Politics Home editor, Kevin Schofield, Boris Johnson appeared ready to discuss the length of the extra parliamentary time Jeremy Corbyn wanted during yesterday’s meeting when, Dominic Cummings “banged the table and said they wanted an election, not more time”.

Isn’t it great to be in control?

So, here we are, stuck between the two unlovely faces of the Union. On the one hand, the feart, limp Labour Party – on the other, the pumped-up, combative, Tories. And here we are stuck in the pointlessness of Britain’s much-vaunted democratic process – about to face a General Election the SNP will doubtless win in Scotland but also lose in terms of having any UK clout.

A General Election may get juices flowing – but make no mistake, whether it’s held before Christmas or in the spring, the whole exhausting exercise will be an unsatisfactory, undemocratic way of revisiting Brexit, with a confusing overlay of other issues and the distorting impact of first-past-the-post voting, that impossible-to-reform aspect of British “democracy” which guarantees the popular will is never accurately reflected in the share-out of seats.

But, in the British bulldog’s version of problem-solving that excites the Commons, no-one cares about that. The urge to fight is all around and the party that doesn’t look “hard enough” to play this pointless game, will be obliterated. There’s no way the SNP will let that happen – their position in Scotland (and in the eyes of the rest of Europe) is electorally tungsten and morally strong.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Even if the SNP took every single seat in Scotland, it would make no difference to our lack of standing in the Union.

​We are stuck in a circus. Watching can be compulsive – but the price of ringside seats is the acceptance of passivity. And at this time in our history, we must find a way to act.

Scotland needs to regroup, gather and plan – above all, we desperately need another crack at independence. But that probably won’t come from another General Election, however satisfying the proxy battle with Unionism.

We need a strategy. There is no substitute.