THE hallmark of the Johnson regime is its self-deluding overblown rhetoric and this week’s example – his ludicrously pompous assertion about  “the sheer might” of the Union – is a classic of its type – its type being provably isolationist, arrogant, nonsense. 

A brief glance across the Irish sea makes the point perfectly. There a country smaller than Scotland in land mass, resources and population has coped with Covid in a similar, determined way. But unlike Scotland, it has not been constrained by lack of powers to act in certain areas, whilst it has, again unlike Scotland, borrowed what it needed to cope. That is considerably in excess of what Scotland has been able to access because of restrictions on our fiscal powers, our dependence on UK budgets and the financial sleight of hand of a UK Chancellor.   

Then just last weekend Ireland’s new leaders were sitting down with the leaders of the largest countries on the continent hammering out an agreement on what was still needed to sustain and complete the recovery.

The comparison goes further, and not to Scotland’s benefit.  

Ireland was described by The Economist” this week as having a claim  “to be the world’s most diplomatically powerful country”. One of its former politicians is the EU trade commissioner, the serving finance minister has just been elected president of the Euro Group, it is about to take up a coveted seat on the UN Security Council (won by election over Canada) and its armed forces form a prominent part of many UN peace keeping missions.

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Compare that with the “sheer might” of the UK, whose candidate to lead the World Trade Organisation is being treated with ridicule, which has walked away from the European top table, whose armed forces – already under financial strain because of the insane cost of an unusable nuclear deterrent – and civil service are about to be gutted by an out-of-control unelected bureaucrat with crazy ideas and which is home to the world’s largest un-elected legislative body, to which its Government is still adding its cronies.

The contrast grows even more stark when one examines how Ireland and Scotland are treated within their respective unions. The Euro Summit was hard fought with an almost unprecedented four days of sometimes heated discussion, but it was in the end a  successful process in which “give and take” negotiation produced results unlike the current UK “take it or leave it” stance.  

At the heart of all that was not just Ireland, but 10 other countries smaller or around the same size as Scotland. Each of them had not only a veto on what was decided, but also an active role in hammering out – and then benefiting from – the Covid recovery process for the entire continent.

However, Scotland last weekend was facing up to a further power grab, with the “sheer might” of the UK focused not on supporting our country but on taking more away from the already depleted stock of tools we have to cope with the current twin crises of Covid and Brexit.  We have no veto on such actions and no active role in shaping what happens whilst the details, as they have emerged, grow more, not less, threatening.  

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In the EU rules on state aid, recognitions of standards and non-discrimination are set by a lengthy democratic process in which all members participate and in which all can find ways of  protecting their key concerns. In the “mighty” UK, however, there is a bare month given to submit views, to which no heed will be paid. There will follow legislation which, even if every Scottish MP voted against it, would still be enacted and imposed – a position that would (and will) also apply if the Scottish Parliament refuses consent.  

Finally, and just to add insult to injury, the presentation of these intentions was undertaken in a way deliberately calculated to mislead and to deflect attention for their real purpose. Days later the same devious and deceitful approach was taken to the report on Russian interference in the UK democratic process when a source in Downing St – which one must always assume to have at least the tacit approval of the Prime Minister – briefed to journalists what turned out to be a completely false anti-Scottish claim about the matter.

That is no demonstration of “sheer might”. It is in fact quite the reverse even to say such a thing. It is dishonest weakness and it reveals a fantasising, insecure, bullying Prime Minister, leading a fantasy fuelled, and failing, administration.