IT has never been, let’s be honest, “a precious Union”. That slice of self-serving rhetoric is uttered to draw a convenient veil over the current parlous state of the shotgun marriage between the Scottish and English nations.

It’s an empty soundbite, (rather like the non-existent “special relationship” with the US), which politicians deploy in knee-jerk fashion to gloss over the unlovely reality of a partnership in the throes of impending divorce proceedings.

But, as with all such fractious partings, the refusal to face facts is nothing more than a delaying tactic; full of sound and fake fidelity, signifying nothing very much at all.

The bride, as we know, was given away by a bunch of posh relations, while her more plebeian country folk protested up and down the land. But in 1707, money and promise of preferment talked the loudest.

Plus ca change.

Scotland was apparently awarded one more seat in the English parliament than Cornwall. And handed some cash to compensate for the fact that she was debt-free while her new spouse assuredly wasn’t.

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And in truth, as in many arranged marriages, there were periods where both parties found benefits. Commercial opportunities opened up for Scotland, and later many of her sons participated with rather regrettable relish in her partner’s imperial ambitions, colonial adventures and slavery.

It was later, much later, that the tide, now approaching a flood, began to turn. England found that his bride was possessed of an unexpected dowry in the 1970s when North Sea oil began to gush.

Since the marital tradition of “what’s mine is yours” was still being observed, it took a while for the bride to clock that this wealth was pouring straight into a Treasury requiring to attend to the collateral damage of Thatcherism rather than a rainy day fund to ensure future prosperity.

But gradually, Scotland, like a wife suddenly realising she was bound to a chap with some very dubious habits, woke up to the fact that this partnership, this “precious Union” of separate and ancient kingdoms, was ever so slightly lopsided. The Union flag was flown in support of English teams, and God Save the Queen was expected to be deployed by both parties in national team sports. The Scottish identity was being slowly and very surely subsumed into a British one which, in reality, had become entirely interchangeable with an English one. This once proud bride had morphed into a serving wench.

And so it might have continued until the arrival, a mere 300 years later than first promised, of a Parliament in Edinburgh. (You may recall the absurd furore, when an early administration had the temerity to then refer to itself as a government rather than an executive.)

Holyrood gave Scotland a renewed sense of herself, one which emboldened her to enquire of her populace whether they might not prefer reverting to a single state.

Her partner, at first indulging no more than a hopeless whim, became more than a little panicky when it seemed for a while as if the answer might well be, yes, please. Let us renew our vows, English and Unionist Scots, pleaded. It will all be different this time. You can have lots more freedom. Lots more say. Stay with who and what you know; it’s a scary place out there.

It became a triumph of gaslighting; persuading Scotland that she was financially incapable of standing on her own feet. That she lacked the experience and intelligence to make it as a singleton. That nothing good would ever come of getting ideas above her station. And, as we know, if you tell a lie often enough, it gains traction. Which brings me effortlessly to the door of the current PM. The poster boy for political mendacity stars in a current social media video clip where he slaps down an SNP MP for daring to suggest Brexit would threaten the Erasmus programme of European student exchanges.

There was not the slightest suggestion that would ever be the case, thundered the man for whom Santa was unable to spring a comb. Until, to nobody’s surprise, he killed it off. Although Europe offered to keep it alive despite Brexit.

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This man is not a buffoon, for that species is rarely as dangerous as a premier whose word is just never his bond. It gets to the heart of why the Brexit negotiations almost foundered; because all unions depend on trust, and nobody trusts Boris on anything. It was no surprise either that he threatened to tear up the “legally binding” Withdrawal Agreement he signed, or that the suggestion to do so came from one of Mr Cummings’s little Vote Leave elves. Truly, a band of brigands.

And it is that commodity, or the lack of it, that will ultimately sink the UK Union. We trusted the promise to be a full partner in any negotiations, and instead found the door shut in our face. We trusted the promise that Scottish fisheries would be protected, and found not just they but also farmers got shafted along the way.

You cannot stay in a marriage where trust has gone, and where vow after vow is casually broken. Worse still when a post-nup is put in place which removed the small amount of autonomy you enjoyed and voted for.

We can’t stay in this marriage “for the sake of the children” – it is their future which is being mortgaged and their horizons narrowed. We cannot stay in bed with a partner who surrounds himself with wastrels and inadequates.

When all this is over we may find, as so many divorced couples do, that the relationship will improve quite markedly. That they can function as friends when enforced intimacy and coercive control is no longer part of the equation.

Farewell “precious Union”. Hello self respect.