THE smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd, the spectacle of a ringmaster commanding total control … all these were missing when the Tory government circus rolled into Scotland yesterday, but it was nevertheless hard to miss thanks to the incessant horn-tooting of a single performer.

“The sheer might of our Union has been proven once again!” declared BoJo, producing a bouquet of new funding from the sleeve of his jacket then spraying water in the face of anyone trying to take a closer look at the figures.

Lucky old Scotland has been kindly gifted a whole load of money and an Edinburgh Military Tattoo’s worth of soldiers by the benevolent UK. It’s a bit like when you see “free withdrawals” on a cash machine and can rest assured the bank is generously giving money to anyone who wants it, regardless of how much they have paid in.

Whatever next – free popcorn and candy floss? Free light-up wands for booing Orcadians to wave as the official clown car passes by?

We already know the Prime Minister is an expert contortionist and magician, capable of turning power grabs into power gifts using only the muscles in his tongue, and possessed of the dazzling ability to hypnotise his party’s politicians into voting however he wants them to. I mean, surely this is the only explanation for the six Scottish Tory MPs voting to lower food standards against the interests of farmers, fishermen and every UK citizen who prefers their chicken dinner without a side serving of listeria?

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Nicola Sturgeon might have been cautioning that no-one should be going around crowing about the UK’s pandemic response, let alone seeking to make political capital from it, but the Prime Minister managed to shift the spotlight back onto himself with a dazzling display of juggling giant crabs. Scotland won’t be “clawing” back too many powers after Brexit, you see? Westminster knows best how to ensure a level playing field across the mighty UK!

If it’s considered bad form to talk about Covid-19 as part of a bid to keep the Union intact, perhaps BoJo will try conveying via mime how the UK’s virus response shows we are better together – if by “better” you mean among the worst in the world in terms of death tolls. The audience might be a little uncomfortable when he grabs his throat and feigns gasping, but he can lighten the tone by “recovering”, tipping his hat and performing a forward roll followed by 20 press-ups.

The biggest disappointment of this touring production – apart from its limited duration and lack of big-city dates – is the reliance on a single, tired act. But that’s just one of the problems with turning the UK into a hostile environment for immigrants – it makes it much more difficult to recruit the likes of Chinese acrobats, Swedish sword-swallowers or Hungarian escapologists.

Trapeze performances will hopefully be possible post-Brexit once the UK is freed from all the health and safety red tape that boring old Brussels insists on.

There will be no stopping the mighty UK once we take back control of our health, sell off the NHS to the United States and start playing Russian roulette with imported meat products. Swinging from the rafters singing God Save the Queen is bound to follow.

While Nicola Sturgeon is walking a careful tightrope, lifting lockdown measures to boost the economy only when she’s sure it’s worth the risk, Johnson has opted to just get a bloody move on, perhaps reasoning that the head bull of the mighty UK has attained immunity and the rest of the herd will just need to take their chances.

Call me cynical, but I suspect this top-billed act “The Mighty UK” might turn out to be gym instructor Joe Wicks wearing a Union Flag unitard and carrying a cartoon-style barbell. Exhausted from 18 weeks of trying to single-handedly boost morale and distract everyone from the shambles at Westminster, will he be pressed into service one more time to jog around the sawdust in the big top, pumping iron while carrying stockpiled PPE on his average-size shoulders?

He could lead a troupe of indestructible pensioners wearing capes embellished with gold, silver or bronze sequins depending on how much money they’ve raised for charity by walking, climbing or staggering about the place. Roll up, roll up! The Great British Ache-Off will wow and worry you in equal measure. Their pain is our gain! Cheer them on, you miserable bastards, or the virus will have won!

There will of course be no performances by wild animals, as this is 2020 and that would be inhumane, but eagle-eyed observers may have noticed a trailer full of caged wolves among yesterday’s cavalcade, partially hidden under a red, white and blue flag tarpaulin. Asked to clarify their inclusion, BoJo reportedly declared “the UK Treasury kept the wolves at bay” by generously providing a furlough scheme, and that any animals he had brought with him were part of an exciting new rewilding scheme that was his special threat – sorry, treat – for Scotland.

Some say the “Minister for the Union” is in a panic about polls showing 54% support for independence, but why would he be? He can just keep thumbing his nose at us while giving us back our own money and calling it a treat. He probably reckons he’s on solid ground, but he should bear in mind that complacency can be dangerous. There may be banana skins ahead.