I HAD to double check just to be sure my memory wasn’t playing me tricks. But yes, there it was, the chastening rendition by UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, uttered barely a few months ago.

For those readers who might have forgotten, here’s a quick reminder of Raab’s very words.

“It’s a matter of trust, and lots of countries around the world are asking this question – does China live up to its international obligations? Because if they can’t be trusted to keep their word on Hong Kong, why would they be trusted to live up to their wider international responsibilities?”

Chinese president Xi Jinping and his Communist Party cadres must be having a right old chuckle to themselves now. Come to think of it, so must Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and just about any other political leader whose government has been on the finger-wagging end of a “Great British” rebuke over their failure to honour international agreements, laws and treaties.

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While not entirely unexpected, the UK’s hypocrisy over demands to stand by international obligations while failing to do so itself by voting in principle for the Internal Market Bill is a supreme moment of constitutional irony.

Yes, I know the proposal is not yet law and may not become law, but it still speaks volumes about the willingness of this Tory Government to act unlawfully. By any standards this is a disingenuous government.

It’s one in short that is happy to negotiate with the EU on its post-Brexit relationship, while all the while sharpening the supposed legal means to breach any agreed obligations. This is not a “safeguard” as some Tories would have us believe. It is what it is – an act of deceit.

Were you the negotiator in any country tasked with making trade deals with the UK, what conclusion would you draw from such a duplicitous approach?

Would you choose to do business with a nation that is only too willing to default on its obligations under the law?

It’s just over a year ago now, in this very column, that I wrote about what I saw as the UK’s drift towards failed state status. It was in the wake of the “resignation” of Kim Darroch, Britain’s ambassador to the US, following leaks of diplomatic cables critical of the Trump administration.

Then too – just as now with the Internal Market Bill – we were given a stark illustration of the willingness by Boris Johnson’s Government to abandon principle in order to protect their political ambitions. Back then it was a respected diplomat thrown under the bus. This week, it was an agreement made with the EU.

AS I said back then and repeat again, failed states are measured by many things, but among them is the behaviour of ruling elites; social divisions; economic inequality; emigration; state legitimacy; public services; human rights and, above all, the rule of law.

Once again Johnson has chosen to take a leaf out of the Trump playbook. The US president after all has made a habit of walking out on international agreements and shares a deep hostility towards the EU.

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The forked tongue of Dominic Raab will again be wagging this week in Washington where he will doubtlessly whisper the kind of things Trump’s team like to hear while saying something else entirely when he tries to fend off senior Democrats, rightly concerned that the UK is hell-bent on undermining the Good Friday Agreement.

While US governments of both stripe have sometimes in the past been fickle themselves when it comes to international treaties, House speaker Nancy Pelosi is still right to ask “how do you trust that?” when confronted by the UK’s overriding of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and potential unpicking of the Irish border accord.

If dysfunctional Britain has long shown the signs of failed state status then it has just fallen to another all-time low – that of rogue state, one unable to distinguish between right and wrong.

You know how bad things are really getting and how loose the Tory cannon now is when it clatters around knocking away the rule of law that even Margaret Thatcher’s version of Toryism regarded as a “sacred British value”. Johnson’s version tears up any notion of values, not least that principle well established in international law, as codified in Article 27 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, that a state may not disregard its international obligations just because its domestic law allows or dictates otherwise.

BUT hey, what does this matter to the likes of Johnson, Cummings, Gove, Raab and their ilk when Brexit frenzy takes hold?

At one fell swoop, these rogues and/or fools, for that is what they are, have made it easier for the Vladimir Putins, Trumps and other pretenders to such a political modus operandi to defy or break the rules and damn the consequences. Not only does it reveal a deep lack of understanding about the UK’s new place in the world, but makes that world an even more dangerous one.

Johnson’s parcel of rogues in their rogue state care nothing that the trust between the UK and its biggest trading partner risks being seriously damaged before the relationship even starts.

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They care nothing that their actions threaten peace in Northern Ireland, or the sacrifices made on the road to the Good Friday Agreement. For them the rule of law has become nothing more than a cynical political bargaining chip, one to be used freely in order to prop up a “Great Britain” that exists only in their imagination; one in which a toxic British nationalism is used to try and breathe life into some sad bygone notion of empire.

It is doomed to failure and will serve only to give fresh impetus to those increasing number of Scots that the latest polls show see this attempted power grab for what it is.

Now that the cynical trajectory of Johnson’s political ambitions is laid bare, so must Scotland’s strategic trajectory in response seize every advantage such a catastrophic blunder offers. Let’s leave this parcel of rogues to their rogue state. There is only one direction of travel now for Scotland with our collective foot on the accelerator towards the destination that is independence.