IN its approach to devolution, the UK Government is trying to boil a frog. The story goes like this: if you put a frog into boiling water, it will jump straight back out, but if you let it sit comfortably in something cooler, and then gradually turn the heat up, it won’t realise it is being cooked until it is too late.

A frontal assault on the existence of the Scottish Parliament would raise both hackles and a tidal wave of national reaction. A referendum would also be required if its abolition was formally proposed.

But if the UK Tories chip away at the powers whilst dishonestly pretending that they respect them and those who wield them, then in time they will achieve the same thing – a much weakened institution with little ability to stand up for Scotland and no powers to resist the march of the autocratic English nationalism which is already under way south of that non-existent Border.

It is to the great shame of the Scottish Tories that they are prepared to aid and abet such constitutional vandalism, for they can be in no doubt that such is the aim of their UK Government at the highest level, by which I don’t mean the Prime Minister, but his chief adviser. Let’s not forget that Dominic Cummings was Michael Gove’s Spad in Education less than a decade ago and it is Gove who is in charge of internal UK relations.

Both have a track record of extremism and internecine warfare within their party. Both now have their sights set on anyone or any institution who might still try to thwart the reshaping of the UK into their warped backward-looking view of a so called sovereign “Global Britain” – be that the civil service, the military or the devolved governments.

We Scottish frogs are hard to boil, though. Our blood is colder and we have plenty of access to the cold water of reason and resistance. Moreover, we are working to get out of the pan just as soon as we can, despite the difficulties inherent in the UK’s unwritten constitution. The sides are steep but we will make it, even though we must at the same time vigorously defend ourselves against the damage already being done by Brexit.

Today sees the media launch of yet another attempt to fool all of the people for as much of the time as possible, otherwise known as a UK Government advertising campaign. The first part of the strapline in this expensive effort to sell Brexit to what is an increasingly sceptical public says “UK’s New Start”, with a set of images and in a font which are meant to make us welcome that prospect.

However this is not Browning’s new start of a “glad confident morning”. It is more like that type of new start that is forced on you when you get evicted from your house, lose your job and discover your partner is suing you for divorce all on the same day.

The figures speak for themselves. Any Brexit outcome that the UK negotiates, given the red lines they have set themselves, will result in a massive downturn in GDP, a big increase in unemployment and a huge headache for most parts of the economy. Some, like services and the food industry, will be decimated.

There is, in my mind, and that of many in Brussels, no doubt that the Tories are pressing ahead because the massive Covid downturn will cause even more damage, allowing the results of the Brexit disaster to be hidden within the greater carnage.

But such sleight of hand comes at a price, for the UK will not be able to escape the effect on its international competitiveness and reputation. It will lag behind when others are recovering and the threadbare, ancient comfort blanket of arrogant British exceptionalism will give scant protection from the chill winds of long-term decline.

But there is hope for Scotland because we have a route out of such a boorach and – unwittingly – the UK confirm this in the second part of their new Brexit advertising slogan.

For after “UK’s New Start” comes the injunction “Let’s Get Going!”

That is, I presume, meant to exhort us all to even greater effort, in the way that such slogans do in dystopian fiction.

But you can read it differently. For Scotland has a place to go to.

So I agree. “Lets Get Going”. Out of the pan. Out of the UK. Back into Europe and the wider world.