COMMON decency surely demands Boris Johnson be given some sort of Scottish honour for services to independence. Very few can boast his long-standing commitment to the cause of rallying support. Every sighting of him north of the Border occasions a fresh frisson in the pro-indy polling.

We realise now that proclaiming himself Minister for the Union was just his little joke. Since then his custodianship of the ties which bind the nations of the UK has had all the ready finesse with which his career has long been associated. To call him a recruiting sergeant fails to recognise his true contribution. This chap is a veritable colonel-in-chief at attracting new indy voters.

And his pre-Christmas gift, offered up during the Zoom call to northern England Tory MP’s, is one which will keep on giving. Devolution? Pah! Nothing more or less than a “disaster” especially in Scotland. Tony Blair’s “worst idea”. (Quite the claim considering minor league initiatives like invading Iraq.)

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Subsequent remarks on ensuring no further powers should be attached to the devolved administrations, allowed several felines to leap from the Tory bag. In a few ill-chosen sentences he put to bed, once and for all, the risible fiction that the Internal Market Bill had nothing whatsoever to do with grabbing power and emasculating Holyrood.

Boris’s head may or may not button up the back - I’ve never had the opportunity to check - but the Scottish electorate’s assuredly does not. We know, of course we do, that the Brexit endgame is being used as cover for dismantling devolved government and all its works.

It’s just that no Tory has ever actually fessed up to it, unless we count Andrew Bowie’s chest-beating tweets on the UK Gov being back in Scotland. He doesn’t mention when or why they left. Perhaps when they carelessly shed more than half their Westminster contingent last December.

No matter. Boris has come out loud and proud with the truth of it all. There is no more accomplished and flexible athlete when inserting a foot in the mouth. Practice makes perfect. Oh to be a fly on the wall when his latest bout of verbal diarrhoea was relayed to Scotland’s most famous football linesman. With Boris by my side, who needs enemies, Douglas Ross may just perhaps have mused.

The National:

In the hours following this most noisy of clangers, Conservative spokespeople were wheeled out at intervals with variations on “what he really meant was”. Tellingly, no spokesperson felt able to deny that he had actually uttered the fateful words. That’s one of the few joys of Zoom – it’s not like cocktail party chit chat which has the merit of deniability. What happens on Zoom doesn’t often stay on Zoom. And can be recorded.

You might imagine, at a juncture when the PM is still trying to sort out who leaked to whom over his lockdown timetable, he would be at pains to ensure no further hostages were handed to fortune. Then again, blurting out the unsayable is more or less his stock in trade.

Let us give thanks for that. When the first session of a truly independent Scottish Parliament is finally convened, let us ensure he has a reserved VIP seat. It’s the least we can do. He has done so much for us.