GROWING up, I heard politicians on the radio like Callaghan, Thorpe, Healey, but Margaret Thatcher was the first one an impressionable teenager took notice of. I admired her strength and was too young to question the Tory line on the economy. Unilateralist Labour seemed dangerous and inept, and the SNP’s Gordon Wilson insipid.

I grew out of my Tory phase at university and my politics moved to the centre. Working at Radio Clyde when Thatcher resigned in 1990, I fielded callers to Dougie Donnelly’s show. A lady from Bearsden expressed regret. The rest of the calls are still burning in my ears.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown inspired me. I liked that Scots were strongly represented in government and approved of their pragmatic agenda. If I gave a thought to nationalism it was to worry that Holyrood was the slippery slope. To me, the SNP seemed parochial. And that hideous yellow!

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I came out as gay in 2003 and moved to London. I found a world city and loved it. The 2012 Olympics opening ceremony reflected a liberal UK I identified with. So when the indyref came, I waved the Union flag in Trafalgar Square with Welsh and English friends. I was proud to be Scottish, British and European. Starting a new job that year, I bought a coffee cup with the Union flag.

In 2015, I became aware of Mayor Johnson’s vanity project, the Garden Bridge, a breathtaking abuse of power. His corruption, in plain sight, was chilling. I joined the campaign against the bridge, even becoming a heated radio phone-in caller myself.

Since June 2016, the Britain I loved has debased itself. The illegality of the Leave campaign, the murder of Jo Cox, the hate agenda of the Tory press, Windrush, Labour antisemitism, the bullying of judges, and prorogation. A record of incompetence, cynicism and pure evil. At the same time, I was won over by Alyn Smith’s rousing speech in the European Parliament, Joanna Cherry’s advocacy, and above all Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership.

I’m not a Brexit bad loser because I’m not looking back, I’m looking at the options ahead. Self-determination would allow Scotland to become the country that suits her civic character. We can grow our economy faster as an English-speaking member of the EU and be an ally in England’s democratic reboot.

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The other path is terrifying. In 2012, a week after the Olympics ended, a group of five Tory MPs, four now in cabinet, published Britannia Unchained, a Darwinian manifesto of fewer employment rights and a smaller state. Combined with Johnson’s moral vacuum, these ideologues are an existential threat to our nation.

Brexit is just the start. Next is a desperation deal with the US. And, given that the Tories are willing to inflict trade sanctions on British business, we must assume they will crush Scotland’s economy to undermine our chances of ever breaking away. The stakes are high. All progressives in Scotland should be supporting independence now.

The next referendum is not “indyref2”, it’s our first as an EU third country. I am married to a German whom I might not have met without freedom of movement. He and I know the rights we enjoy were hard won by those who went before, and now is the time to act to secure our sovereign European nation.