WHETHER or not Big Ben burps his approval, at 11pm next Friday night, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, dragging Scotland with it. As Mark Francois shimmies up the lampposts to deck Downing Street in Union Jack bunting, the Johnson Cabinet gets sloshed on Nyetimber, and state officials activate Dame Vera Lynn, we can sing adios, tot ziens, and arrivederci, auf wiedersehen, farvel, yasou and zegnaj to Scotland’s place in Europe. This fact will change our politics considerably.

In fact, the UK still has at least 11 months of the “implementation period” still to run. You may be sick of Brexit, but passing the withdrawal agreement was always only the end of the beginning. The real danger now is that what Johnson does with his majority goes unscrutinised.

During this transition period, Britain will continue to apply most EU regulations, even as its ministers disappear from the Brussels debating chambers and committee rooms where those rules are decided. The European Court of Justice will continue to exercise its jurisdiction. Free movement of people, goods, capital will last until the end of December 2020, before being superseded by whatever new deal Boris Johnson can strike with the EU27. This transition period can be extended – for up to two years – but for the clock to be put back, any extension must be agreed by the beginning of July. In any case, the Prime Minister has already put this idea on the spike.

This tight timetable is giving some forward-looking analysts the fear. According to the Tory administration, it will be easy work to dicht up a comprehensive and shiny new relationship with the European Union before the bells of Hogmanay toll in 2020.

The new president of the European Commission, by contrast, has suggested that agreeing the detail of a bumper bargain will be “impossible” in the available time. If so, a No-Deal Euro crash out remains a possibility. Only time will tell.

The withdrawal agreement, which comes into effect next Friday, is in every respect worse for this country than the accord Theresa May first struck and MPs rejected three times. Because of the desperate folly of pro-Brexit politicians who held out for a moon on a string and came away with less than a burst baw, we are not only caught in the grip of Brexit, but a form of Brexit which leaves this rampant Tory majority free to get hacking and slashing away at the so-called “red tape” of workers’ rights.

Consider the detail. Gone is Article 4(1) of Theresa May’s deal. This committed the UK to ensuing a “level playing field” with Europe on “level of protection provided for by law” “in the area of labour and social protection and as regards fundamental rights at work, occupational health and safety, fair working conditions and employment standards, information and consultation rights at company level, and restructuring”. Johnson’s deal junks all that. Workers are at the mercy of the whims and prejudices of this House of Commons. Way to go, Jeremy. And remember, this is only the end of the beginning.

This column has been highlighting for some time that this kind of Brexit rides a bendy bus right through the 2014 independence prospectus, in ways which must change the debate about what Scottish self-rule looks like. There are opportunities here as well as challenges.

In 2014, Better Together’s European policy was essentially Project Fear. Where were the guarantees an independent Scotland would be admitted to the EU? What are the implications for the rights of EU citizens already living here? All of this is so much smoke now.

What are the implications for arguing for independence in Europe from outside of the EU? “What guarantees do you have you’ll be admitted?” is a much weaker line to argue from outside the EU than inside it. Voters can’t be threatened by BetterTogether2 with the prospect of losing something they already have. The predictions of Unionist campaigners in the first campaign have been exposed as gravely mistaken. Circumstances have changed materially.

But there remain important judgment calls to be made. Although the implications for Scotland were only minimally highlighted last October, Johnson’s solution to the Irish backstop – effectively running an customs border down the spine of the Irish sea – dumps the problem on the doorstep of independence supporters rather than resolving it.

If Scotland is in Europe in some form, and the rest of the UK very much isn’t, how are the discontinuities to be managed? How do you argue for a version of Scottish independence which could see borders at Gretna? These are new questions about independence the Scottish people haven’t yet been much exposed to, and nobody is yet used to arguing.

Our predicament raises other questions about what kind of trajectory an independent Scotland might aim to take in Europe. What are the waystations, and final destination? Is the goal full re-accession to the European Union, or something more Norwegian?

There are other lurking dangers. Last week Sajid Javid told UK businesses to “forget” alignment with EU rules. “There will not be alignment, we will not be a ruletaker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union,” the chancellor said.

It would be a mistake to interpret any of this as being primarily driven by concern about Scotland or Boris Johnson’s desire not to go down in history as the Prime Minister who delivered both Brexit and the break-up of the United Kingdom. Scotland is, and will always be, collateral.

But there are important implications of the Chancellor’s argument about how this Tory majority intends to govern, and the aggressive anglosphere this administration shows every intention in cultivating, whether most people in Scotland like it or not, whether they vote for it or not.

The dissent of all three devolved parliaments to the Withdrawal Bill was impolitely ignored this week. Expect Westminster to turn a deaf ear to more.

The Scottish Government has committed, so far as it can, to remain in harmony with EU rules and standards, on everything from the environment, and food and animal welfare standards, to workers’ rights. They have two good reasons for this. Firstly, they judge this will benefit Scottish growers and manufacturers and traders, allowing the freest possible movement of goods into the common market after Brexit day.

But there are wider strategic interests at play here too. One of the arguments, repeatedly deployed by SNP politicians, is that Scotland already complies with EU law. As our laws stand, re-entering common market would be a baby step for an independent Scotland, if the political will was there, if sympathetic ears could be turned in Brussels. For cynical Tories, keen to throw as many barriers as possible in the way of Scottish independence, this baby step needs a crevasse opened up under it.

Now they have the political means, it is in their interests to curtail and minimise, so far as possible, how closely Scotland can align with EU rules. In practice, this means hoarding the legal competencies in London, dictating common frameworks rather than agreeing them, and shamelessly dragging the devolved administrations along in their wake.

Instead of giving Scottish ministers the wriggle room to shadow EU law, and living with the difference, Whitehall may now see the advantages of keep those powers and forcing Scotland into a situation of divergence. The will-to-centralise is knitted into Whitehall’s basic fibres.

Scots must realise: no political choice is without risks To quake at the risks of independence, is to embrace the risks this Tory government poses to your work, your working standards, the security of your European neighbours and friends, the air you breathe and the food you eat.

I know which hazards I’d rather run.