THERE has been a furore of late at how this UK Government and those around it take a cavalier approach to the law. This isn’t just an academic chattering classes thing, the law is fundamental to how we live our lives and is the first and last defence against tyranny of the state against the individual.

Politicians make laws that actually is our primary function, that’s what parliaments do. I remember I was on a mission up to Arctic Norway when we had a presentation in Kirkenes from the Norwegian Consul General to Murmansk and he was explaining why Norway had signed up to the EU sanctions on Russia in the wake of the illegal annexation of Crimea and he used a notable phrase – “we’re a small state, international law is all we have”.

Smaller states tend, not always, but tend, to be better at multi-lateralism and co-operation because we lack the delusion that we can go it alone and recognise that we gain more from co-operation than we lose in making decisions jointly with others.

That is how the EU works, that pooled sovereignty does, yes, limit decision-making in some ways in that compromise is always needed, but the decisions, boosted by a global A-team of 27 states and just short

of half a billion people, count for a lot more. And the way these decisions are made and enforced is vital, by law. So where we in the SNP are comfortable with pooled sovereignty, and have thought a lot about where we fit in the world and how we want to interact with it, it is clear that the UK, or this hapless government at least, is about 20 years behind us in its thinking.

Last week saw the resignations of the UK Government’s most senior lawyer and the Advocate General for Scotland over the Prime Minister’s contempt for international law. The Northern Ireland protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement was a hard-won compromise struck with the EU barely nine months ago in order to preserve the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.

In recent weeks the Prime Minister has briefed against his own deal, acting in bad faith and in full view of the world’s media. It is lunacy. It is bad politics and utterly self-defeating. If Global Britain’s first act on the world stage is to trash its own agreements then how in the name of the wee man will anybody take it seriously in future talks?

My own sense of it is that there will be a fudge, that it actually is all just theatre to distract from the more unpleasant aspects of the Internal Market Bill – the power grab against the Scottish and Welsh parliaments.

The Tories are trashing Donald Dewar and John Smith’s devolution model. In the same week that the LibDems are set to abandon their commitment to EU membership, the Labour party has made barely a whimper while the devolved settlement, endorsed in the 1997 referendum, has been turned on its head. The principle that all decisions, unless reserved to Westminster, be made in Scotland has now been reversed. A new politically appointed panel will sit above every decision of every body, be it Stirling Council, Stirling University, the police and fire services or the Scottish Government.

Everything will be subject to the gainsay of an unelected death panel which will be able to advise the UK minister to reverse any decision in the name of the UK internal market. It is an appalling power grab.

Of course, devolution is not my project, I want independence within the EU, but for those Scots who just six years ago were convinced we had the best of both worlds – this power grab, this assault on devolution, must surely be the last straw. Independence is the best way to protect our powers in Scotland and ensure we get to make decisions for ourselves.

But the pattern continues. This week, Boris Johnson will defy the advice of senior military officials and lawyers and blindly plough ahead with the erosion of the international rules-based order that the United Kingdom helped to create.

The Overseas Operations Bill being brought forward this week would put a time limit on prosecutions for crimes committed by members of the Armed Forces, flouting the internationally agreed rules of warfare, effectively decriminalising torture and placing UK Armed Forces at greater risk as they carry out their work.

The UK Government has shown no sign of listening. Instead, it appears ready to ride roughshod over the system of international law it helped to create. It is content to send a signal to the despots of the world that protections for civilians – and for UK Armed Forces – during conflict no longer matter.

The SNP oppose this legislation and my friend Stewart McDonald, as SNP defence spokesperson at Westminster, has done a power of work in highlighting how it does not do what it says on the tin. But the signal it sends is the most worrying thing for me, same as the recent actions of the UK on a number of fronts. It says to despots and potential despots around the world that the UK actually isn’t that serious about law. It’ll bend it to suit itself. How in future can we complain when they do too?

I’ve long thought that the UK is going in a different direction to Scotland but Brexit has accelerated that move to light speed. We in Scotland have a clear idea of where we want to be, and events in Westminster – day by unpleasant, grinding day – are winning people to our cause.