WHAT makes me most nervous about Michael Gove? Possibly his lips starting to move, as a prelude to another meaningless slogan. The kind crafted to disguise the underlying strategy of trying to sell a seamless UK whilst dismantling any devolutionary road blocks to it.

The latest, and possibly the most hollow, is his parroting of Team UK – a group he has invented in the manner of straw bricks to further cement this glorious partnership between team Boris and whichever of the component parts of the UK he happens to be shafting at the time.

According to Mr Gove and his assorted apologists/spokespeople, in the brave new world of Team UK, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. And nothing of moment will occur without the devolved administrations being fully consulted and actively involved. Scots with heads buttoning up at the rear, please form an orderly queue.

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You may just recall that the myth of Team UK was most grievously in evidence at the time the UK Government was ­barrelling full pelt towards assorted Brexit ­deadlines since, as we know, mid pandemic is ­precisely the right moment to throw a ­constitutional spanner in every known kind of works.

The economy in meltdown, a Tory ­chancellor throwing fiscal furloughs around like a man with four arms, unemployment beckoning, countless venerable businesses shutting up shop; what more auspicious ­moment to create trading mayhem with your biggest marketplace?

Not only were the various national governments excluded from this negotiating process entirely, but, as we are finding out day and daily, the penalties of hurtling ­towards self imposed, destructive deadlines without doing your homework, tend to ­create the most mayhem for the smaller and vulnerable members of the “team”. The ones whose core concerns you chose to ­ignore from a very great height.

Northern Ireland, whose compliance Mrs May (remember her?) bought with a rather large bribe, was subsequently assured by her successor that there would be no hard border in the Irish Sea or anywhere else, no additional bureaucracy, and no threat to the still fragile Good Friday agreement. Each one of which promises was a very ­dangerous lie.

The National: Home Secretary Theresa May

Lies which have not only brought ­violence back on to the streets, not only stymied inward Northern Irish trade from the UK, but defenestrated the NI First Minister and may yet prevent the trade deal with the USA for which the UK Government is so nakedly panting.

The Northern Ireland Protocol, put in place to avoid a hard land border, is still the subject of friction on all fronts.

A casual reading of the American ­media will tell you that team Biden is all over the Irish situation, and alarmed at the cavalier manner in which years of peace building has been endangered. The US, let’s remember, was rather more than a bit player in working that Easter tide ­miracle. And the current president is ­rather prouder of his Irish antecedents than any of his predecessors.

The impact on Scotland has been no less considerable. Even pre-Brexit, and despite our representing more than half of the UK fishing industry, the negotiations done with our then EU partners were conducted by Westminster ministers, the last of whom sat for an entirely landlocked constituency. It was a classic example of the “know your place” school of partnership. Lulled by the promise of a better result than the Common Fisheries Policy afforded them, many Scottish fisherfolk cheerfully voted Leave.

Then they found that the shilpit deal done at two minutes to midnight didn’t even offer jam tomorrow, but rather some kind of undefined confiture five years down the road, by which time who knows what’s likely to be left of the industry, or for that matter, whether the wrecking ball in human form who is Lord Frost will still be around. Or his government.

Now, having royally screwed the fishing industry (it’s a technical term Auntie Peggy), next in line for the joys of Team UK are her farmers. The proposed trade deal with Australia is just so wrong on any and every count, and again being done at warp speed to give Trade Secretary Liz Truss some desperately needed notches on her belt to display at the G7 summit next month.

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Thus far our globe trotting trade emissary has managed to replicate some of the deals the EU had previously done with a few partners, usually on rather less ­favourable terms. And let’s not forget her sterling work signing up those trading ­giants of Liechtenstein and Albania. The deal with Australia is apparently seen as a gateway to others in the Asia-­Pacific ­region which hardly seems the most ­effective way for the administration hosting the Cop 26 climate change conference to demonstrate its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

Equally serious are the rumoured lack of tariffs and quotas she seems to be ­punting which would have a huge ­impact on our farming communities, most ­especially rural Scotland and Wales. Time and again, during his tenure as ­environment ­minister, Gove emphasised that we would never contemplate lowering our production or animal welfare standards. ­Australian beef and lamb are cheaper ­precisely because they are ­conspicuously less fussy – leaving the UK either being undercut by imports produced to less stringent rules, or ­tearing up our own.

It was both instructive and alarming listening to a debate about this in ­Westminster where Truss intoned that she wouldn’t allow any unfair practices to impact on our farmers and would always protect them – except that she couldn’t manage to add how or when or with what. Methinks the international trade ­secretary speaks with forked tongue. There’s a lot of it about.

Meanwhile the silver tongued Grant Shapps, the fat controller at the helm of railway planning, has just made a ­classic back to the future announcement ­re-inventing British Rail. Except of course the brass nameplate is now Great British Railways, which admittedly has a more Trumpian ring to it. Making our trains great again. Though they are still subject to the model that bankrupted Railtrack within half a dozen years of privatisation; GBR will control the infrastructure, but the private companies will still run the choo choos.

Meanwhile the funds that are sorely needed to upgrade the railways are being poured into the black and ever greedier hole of HS2, the most expensive of the Johnson follies for which generations yet unborn will still be paying.

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Mind you they’ll get from Birmingham to London a wee thing quicker. Their own grandchildren may even still be alive when the long promised improvements to northern ­English rail links are built. But don’t count on it.

HERE again “Team UK” seems to have been left kicking its heels on the subs bench. Despite the Scottish Government both paying for and planning to nationalise Scotrail, no mention of devolved responsibilities managed to intrude on the Fat Controller’s masterplan. He can’t say he wasn’t telt, either, since the government advised its Westminster counterparts of plans for the devolved new transport landscape.

Unfortunately this information channel seems to operate a one way system. We tell them what we’re doing and they tell us nought. Even, perhaps especially, when their plans directly contradict our own.

You may recall when the Fixed Term Parliament Act came into being, the first poll was going to fall the same year as ours. So we had to move from a four to a five year electoral cycle too. A very senior civil servant told me that it wasn’t with malice aforethought – it’s just that ­nobody had bothered to check what lil’ ol’ Scotland did.

Project Team UK is different. It’s moved from studied indifference to Scotland to maximum intrusion in our affairs. I’m happy to play for the jersey – I just want a Saltire on it.