SO is Scotland isolated now that Wales has accepted a Brexit deal with Theresa May? Maybe. But we are where we always are within the Celtic sisterhood – leading from the front for a proper not a patsy agreement about the division of powers post Brexit. And since the powers and divvy up are vital for the proper functioning of the Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast parliaments, you could say the Scottish Government is fighting for the future of devolution. Ironic, eh?

Wales’ Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford says the deal his government has signed means powers in areas “currently devolved remain devolved”. That’s grand. But unless Cardiff has a guarantee Edinburgh’s not yet seen, the crucial little word “consent” is missing and the deal they’ve agreed with Westminster means Theresa May can dabble in Welsh affairs for the next seven years.

READ MORE: 'Wales capitulated to the Tories on Withdrawal Bill'

Now that’s a scary enough prospect – but there’s a worse one. Theresa could soon be elbowed out of the way by Boris or the Barking Rees-Mogg. Imagine how much time either of them would lavish on areas of shared responsibility with Edinburgh.

Anyway, the Welsh Government will now repeal the Continuity Bill, leaving the Scottish Government to stand alone defending its own version before the judges of the UK Supreme Court, probably in June. Plans are for a Joint Ministerial Committee in London next week where Mike Russell will propose another compromise, but Whitehall sources say their current offer is now final, since further change would only jeopardise the deal just struck with Cardiff.

So what is occurring in Wales?

With no offence to our Welsh cousins, their constitutional clout and their enthusiasm for home rule have never hit the same levels as the Scots. The referendum that established their Assembly in 1997 was won by just 0.6 per cent – and from the start the Welsh didn’t have the tax-raising powers won by the Scots.

READ MORE: Former coalition MSP tells Labour and LibDems to back FM over Brexit bill

Despite every conceivable wheel falling off the cart at Westminster, Plaid Cymru has only recently started to advocate independence – for many years they’ve settled for greater devolved powers. That’s because the size of the Welsh population and its close integration with England poses big practical problems.

The Welsh Assembly presided over a Leave vote in Wales – the only one of the devolved nations or regions (including London) not to vote Remain. That’s testimony to the way in which Welsh politics and society still shadows England. According to Daniel Evans of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research: “Hardly any of the people we speak to in our research know anything about the EU dividend to Wales or the implications of Brexit for Wales.

“Instead they focus primarily on British issues such as immigration. This reflects the diet of media in Wales, which is the same as England. Scotland of course has its own media, a left-wing party in charge, and revived engagement in politics since the independence referendum.”

READ MORE: Scotland will realise why Labour is talking mince on federalism

And there’s a final point. The man who made the deal with David Davis, Mark Drakeford, has just announced his intention to stand for the job of Welsh Labour leader, days after the veteran Labour leader Carwyn Jones (the architect of the defiant Continuity Bill strategy) said he was going to quit. Drakeford is a man with a mission – to make headlines in Wales. He’s done that – but he may soon regret not taking a tougher stand and a longer view.

So Wales basically lacks the smeddum, history and democratic mandate to stand up to London. Maybe that explains their decision to take an early bath.

Unionist-dominated Northern Ireland has also pulled its punches in arguments with Westminster, and whilst the current First Minister Arlene Foster looks well capable of flattening any louche London Tory that gets in her way, she’s somewhat constrained by being a Brexiteer herself as well as the woman who sold her party’s soul for £1 billion investment in the province.

Then there’s the wee technical problem that Northern Ireland currently has no assembly, so its politicians must stand by and watch as Theresa May quietly fillets Stormont. So yes, the Scottish Government is having to fight alone for Scotland’s own interests, for our Celtic cousins who will doubtless try to upgrade to any improved offer we achieve and – hugely ironically – for a way to make the devolution settlement continue to work.

Earlier this week, when the SNP leader announced that she wouldn’t be rubber stamping the London deal, Adam Tomkins, the Scottish Tories’ constitution spokesman, said: “The Welsh Government has signed up to this deal.

Yet Nicola Sturgeon, alone, refuses because she prefers to pick a fight with the rest of the UK in order to keep her obsession with a second independence referendum alive.


Yes, Nicola Sturgeon is alone amongst the devolved nations standing up to the Tories – but that’s probably why the SNP are once again ahead in the polls, matey.

Crucially she is NOT alone in the Scottish Parliament, where every other party backed the FM’s fight to protect its powers except … och well, you’ve likely guessed. Plus LibDem Mike Rumbles. Bizarre.

Green co-convener Patrick Harvie says: “We believe MSPs must dig our heels in and refuse to give consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill. It’s unacceptable for Brexit to be used to undermine devolution, especially when Scotland voted Remain so strongly. The people of Scotland have already shown they want nothing to do with this Brexit disaster.”

Quite. It would be a surprising but significant moment for the architects of devolution if Scottish Labour’s leader, Richard Leonard can bring himself to back the Scottish Government explicitly at First Minister’s Questions today.

Already the former Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm has tweeted; “Hope the parties of Devolution will stand with Nicola Sturgeon in defence of the 1998 Scotland Act and the principle of partnership based on consent.”

Though Scottish Labour’s Brexit spokesman Neil Findlay has said: “The fact the government of Wales has reached an agreement but the Scottish Government has not is a real concern.”

Up until now, the degree of consensus at Holyrood on the fight to safeguard its powers has been almost unprecedented since the indyref. And it’s not just MSPs who have come off the fence to defend the parliament in the face of Westminster diktat.

The mainstream media may have denied this argument the oxygen of publicity, but leading academics have come forward to back the legitimacy of the Scottish Government’s stand. Professor Aileen McHarg and Dr Christopher McCorkindale of Strathclyde University have put their weight behind the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe who insists the Continuity Bill has been “carefully framed” to be in line with both UK and EU law. If this is isolation, Nicola Sturgeon’s Tory opponents must have forgotten what it’s like to walk alone. Their memory may be refreshed ere long.

So what will happen next? In this important stand-off between Holyrood and Westminster, which Government will blink first?

Actually, despite Theresa May’s insistence that all details must be nailed down by next week – a deadline that seems to have flapped the Welsh – the final amending stage in the House of Lords is mid-May.

That’s the real deadline for the legislative consent motion at Holyrood.

Of course, the UK Government has acquired the powers to simply steamroller all opposition. And let’s face it. A Prime Minister with the brass-neck to deny responsibility for the vicious environment that left Windrush descendants on the verge of deportation; a Tory leader unperturbed by the fact Universal Credit rollout has produced a 52 per cent rise in food bank use this year; a woman unable to empathise with such human misery is unlikely to be stopped by Scots politicians – no matter how (almost) united.

READ MORE: Historic legislation sees Scotland take a fairer path on social security

But she should remember. Ruth Davidson’s Tories helped get her where she is today. And their prospects of re-election weaken with each passing month and each abandoned commitment to the values of decency, democracy and inclusion many No voters hold dear.

In Theresa May’s world, where might is always right, Nicola Sturgeon’s insistence on respect and parity for the Scottish Parliament may seem laughable.

But David beat Goliath. And pride comes before a fall.