The National:

THIS week, Sir Jonathan Jones, Head of the UK Government’s Legal Department resigned over changes proposed to the legally binding Northern Ireland Brexit protocol.

His resignation followed that of Sir Mark Sedwill, the UK Government’s Cabinet Secretary and the most senior Civil Servant in the UK. Jones was the sixth senior “Mandarin” to recently walk from this Government.

Within hours, Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, confirmed that the UK Government planned to break international law (albeit in a “limited and specific way”).

But the chaos didn’t stop there. It was then announced that Rowena Collins Rice – the director general in the Attorney General’s office – was leaving her post.

How on earth, given its intention to break the law, will the UK Government ever be able to hold any other country to account if international treaties are breached; if human rights laws are violated or if legally binding environmental obligations are torn up?

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SNP MP, Joanna Cherry QC, summed this all up later when she said: “The UK Government’s disrespect for their international obligations is deplorable. They are taking us into a period of lawlessness.”

The impact of this chaos on Scotland is quite profound.

Scotland’s hard-won international reputation for working within the rule of law is being undermined by being part of a UK whose senior Government Ministers are prepared to play fast and loose with legality.

The Scottish Government will now have to spend precious time second guessing whether any of the legal promises or guarantees made by the UK can even be trusted.

And Scotland’s trade with the EU will be affected. The Brexit negotiations, which were already going badly, are being soured by the UK Government’s behaviour.

If anyone doubts the immediate chilling effect this is having, listen carefully at what Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin said yesterday: “Any negotiation process can only proceed on the basis of trust. When one party to a negotiation decides that they can change what’s already agreed and incorporated into law, it really undermines trust. This is a critical time for the Brexit process and the stakes are very high.”

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We all know that the current international rules-based system is far from perfect.

We can all point to flaws in international organisations or rules.

But if anyone doubts that for Scotland, a lawless, chaotic and even more uncertain international landscape would be anything other than less secure, less civilised and more dangerous, then they are kidding themselves.

It is hard to overstate the serious damage the UK Government is doing. Who would have thought that the UK could now be described in the House of Commons as a “rogue state, one where the rule of law does not apply” or the Government asked “Why does the Prime Minister think he and his friends are above the law?”

It has been said many times that when Scotland no longer “wants” independence but that the people know Scotland “needs” independence, then we will win it.

The UK Government’s intention to break international law and usher in an era of lawlessness should tell everyone that Scotland now needs independence – and needs it right now.