THE sight of thousands of lorries trying in vain to cross the Channel from the UK to France has been a grim portent of the dark days to come when time finally runs out on a trade deal between Britain and the EU in a matter of days.

Covid, of course, is the reason why France has been refusing to allow UK lorries to enter the country – in particular, the new strain of the virus which has become the dominant strain in London, and which caused all the UK nations to tighten restrictions around Christmas.

More than 50 countries banned UK arrivals in a bid to stop the new strain – which has shown itself to be more contagious but not yet more deadly – breaching their borders.

So the queues of lorries on the M20 in Kent may not have been particularly surprising but they caused a giant headache against a backdrop of unease over how Brexit trade talks have been going, which is not very well.

On Tuesday evening it was announced that the UK and French governments had reached some form of agreements that could allow some of the lorries to resume their journeys the following day. Details were initially sketchy but the deal seemed to involve hauliers gaining a satisfactory negative result in coronavirus tests before being allowed into France.

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Even more uncertainty surrounds the trade talks, which have continuing in what has been described yet again as a “final push” for a deal. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, stated the obvious when he told diplomats from the EU’s 27 member states that there was very little time left to reach an agreement before the December 31 deadline, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to even consider seeking to extend.

In any case, severe damage has already been done to confidence that UK exporters can continue to supply their customers after the talks deadline.

And now it’s looking like all the fears of food shortages post-Brexit – so roundly dismissed by Johnson and his cohorts ever since the EU referendum result – had some substance after all.

The British Retail Consortium warned that unless the trucks started moving again very soon we will “have problems with fresh produce from December 27”. And Tesco will be re-introducing “temporary purchasing limits’’ on toilet rolls, eggs, rice, handwash and other essential products.

It’s almost impossible to imagine a bigger mess than the one concocted by the current incumbents of Westminster ... although they have been regularly warned of imminent catastrophes and despite pleas to delay Brexit by reasonable voices, including those in the SNP.

Yet as the UK falls apart around our ears we still hear the Tories and their allies describe calls for Scottish independence as divisive, ill-timed and ill-judged.

Like most supporters of independence for Scotland, I don’t want to see Brexit become mired in the disaster so many have predicted. I don’t want to see people suffer, even if they voted for Brexit. The case for independence is not predicated on Brexit being a catastrophe. Indeed, the SNP have consistently argued for sensible steps which, if implemented,would have avoided disaster.

The case for independence has already been proven by the Brexit process itself.

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Proven by Westminster’s insistence on ALWAYS riding roughshod over Scotland’s democratically articulated opposition to leaving the EU. Proven by the arithmetic which determines that Scotland will be forever overruled by its more populous neighbour.

Proven by Westminster’s complete disregard for Scottish institutions, not least the Scottish Parliament, which it robs of powers and threatens to dismantle whenever our elected representatives stand against their bullying and intimidation.

For in truth this is no Union. It is no partnership of equals, nor indeed any partnership at all. What would you call a constitutional arrangement under which the biggest component part always gets exactly what it wants; under which one component part can have its key institutions taken away at the stroke of a pen? There are many words for such an arrangement but a union is not one of them.

Scotland needs its independence not because Brexit will be a disaster - which it undoubtedly will be, despite the best efforts of those branded “divisive nationalists” to save the people of the UK from the malevolent wrecking ball wielded by those in power at Westminster.

Scotland needs its independence because Brexit is a stark reminder of the imbalance of power which will always act against our best interests and will never respect our right to forge our own relationship with the world. Scotland needs its independence because without it we will disappear.