STUPID people. Yesterday’s row over Jeremy Corbyn’s muttered words during Prime Minister’s Questions sums up everything that’s wrong with Britain.

Theresa May was defending a Brexit situation so appallingly bleak, no adjectives, metaphors or parallels are sufficiently strong to describe it. There are no assurances about supplies of vital life-saving anti-cancer drugs from government ministers. The army is on standby. Important UK Government “reforms,” have now been put on a permanent backburner – the only mercy is that the logjam includes yet more hare-brained, cruel and possibly illegal benefits sanctions.

Yet, despite presiding over this utter, abject chaos, the main news following Theresa May’s final clash with the leader of the opposition this year was that he fouled up, apparently muttering “stupid woman” after one of her answers.

Why is that the most important political news story as the country goes to hell in a hand-cart? Because that’s the way the British media rolls.

READ MORE: Jeremy Corbyn denies calling Theresa May 'stupid woman'

But it’s vitally important not to get sucked into a dwam at an important moment like this, when bit by bit and organisation by organisation, the establishment in Scotland is voicing massive doubts about Westminster, any kind of Brexit and therefore decades of unthinking, default support for Scotland’s continuing place in the Union.

Incredibly strong opinions were voiced yesterday by business groups in Scotland about Westminster’s new policy on immigration – the very first UK-devised immigration policy for almost 40 years.

Now remember folks, “taking back control over our borders” is the jewel in the policy crown for fervent Brexiteers. So you’d think the UK Government would be at pains to get it right. Instead Sajid Javid’s new immigration proposals have already crashed and burned – not my opinion, but that of CBI Scotland, whose director Tracy Black said yesterday: “A new immigration system must command public confidence and support the economies of all parts of the UK. These proposals would achieve neither [but] would be a sucker punch for many firms right across the country.”

Strong words.

It seems no-one in business believes Home Secretary Javid’s empty assertion that skills not place of origin will form the basis for migration to the UK once freedom of movement ends with Brexit.

Don’t be fooled. Wealth is all that matters now. If you haven’t got £30k per annum, you can forget trying to come and work here.

Of course, the Tories say there will be 12-month visas for folk earning less. But Black predicts: “A temporary 12-month route would encourage firms to hire a different person each year. That needlessly increases costs and discourages migrants from integrating into local communities.”

Well quite. But who cares about integration or communities? Certainly not a desperate UK Government, sinking deeper into the Brexit mire with each passing day.

CBI Scotland’s conclusion: “These proposals must change. Further consultation is needed … otherwise calls for devolved immigration policies will only grow louder.”

Talk about an own goal. If the Tories can’t keep big business happy, they’re losing the near automatic allies of several lifetimes. Small business too.

Last night, Colin Borland from the Scottish Federation of Small Business told Radio Scotland a survey showed 19% of members believe they will have to close down if EU migrants stop coming here. Things could be even worse in the Highlands where 40% of businesses have EU migrant labour compared to the Scotland-wide average of 25%.

No wonder Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed the Tories’ immigration blueprint as an act of vandalism on Scotland’s economy and society.

Mmmm. May the dogmatist or Sturgeon the internationalist. Which leader do Scotland’s business leaders seem to support today?

Let’s go further.

Which leader is likely to create the kind of country in which anyone – native or incomer – would actually want to live? It’s far from an idle question. Even though the news is full of statistics, income cut-off levels and complex details about immigration, the truth is that people the world over just want to feel welcomed, respected, embraced and included in their new homes. The British immigration system (like the welfare system) offers suspicion, cruelty, competitiveness and elitism instead.

This matters hugely. In one of the Nation films, a speaker praises the Scots as a friendly people.

A wee look of disappointment flickers across audiences. “Aye, it’s nice to be friendly – but does that really get you anywhere in a vicious dog-eats-dog world?”

Look around. Friendliness at a state level is the only thing that keeps the population stable in small independent countries.

Take Ireland. In 2014, Home Secretary Theresa May decided to block UK citizens from returning here with non-EU partners -- unless they earned enough.

This meant tens of thousands of bona fide British citizens were exiled abroad. Folk like East Lothian born Ed Coulson. He met Siberia-born Anya in 2004. Both were selected for a student-run charity project to build a soup kitchen in Swaziland. They fell in love, lived together back in Scotland, and settled for a while in Russia, got married there and in 2012 tried to come home. Too late. In July 2012 the Tories introduced a minimum earnings threshold of £18,600 for any UK citizen trying to return with a foreign spouse… all because the Conservatives were determined to reduce net migration before the 2015 General Election. The non-European family/spouses of British citizens that did get in had “no recourse to public funds” stamped on their passports.

Inhuman and degrading – this breached the right to family life for around 20,000 British citizens. But if it won a few more anti-immigration votes in England, so it must have seemed well worth the candle.

IN desperation Ed and Anya moved to Ireland to live and work there, and return to the UK as European citizens. They’re still living in Clonbur, Co Galway – but have no plans to come “home” now, even though they’ll probably get Irish passports in 2019, which will let them both visit Britain as often as they like because the Common Travel Area is part of the Belfast Agreement.

As Ed eloquently puts it; “They can then shove their skills-based points system up their arse!”

It’s great to see such defiant confidence. But this is how talent is lost. This is how Scots are lost. They are lost because immigration policy like trade, defence (Trident), energy (Hinkley C), and macro-economic policy (austerity and the banking crash) are completely unsafe in Westminster’s hands.

Ed says: “While I was still obsessed with Scottish politics for the first few years here, gradually over the last year or two I’ve become more in tune with Irish stuff, and we’ve both found ourselves entangling in communities and projects and friendships and the land, deeper and deeper. Every so often I turn to myself and say ‘this feels like home now’ and each time, it feels more true.

“That makes me a little sad, because I feel I’m steadily losing my link to Scotland. There’s only so many hours in the day, and it feels healthier now to give that time to the work that’s in front of me, here, rather than fret over the minutiae of Scottish politics. I tell myself that if another indyref is announced, I’ll come over to campaign. But in reality, I’m not sure I could do it.

“I was at a citizenship ceremony this year in Killarney, and it was inspirational to hear the words spoken in welcome: ‘You are now as Irish as I am.’

“The message from politicians on the stage to the thousands in the hall was to become part of new communities, not to lose touch with home cultures and to be sure to share them with new neighbours, because ‘your story is now a part of our story’.

“With words like that, I think I’ll let my UK passport expire, apply for an Irish one, and maybe apply for a Scottish one when the time comes.”

So let’s redefine soft power. Britain has always believed it means networks of diplomats and consulates, decades of arms deals levering trade deals, centuries of dirty money flushing through the City of London and the veneer of civility that comes with cut-glass accents and fondness for the Queen.

But that isn’t soft power in a modern world – that’s entitlement, elitism and corruption.

Scotland is heading in a different direction – reaching out, welcoming in, joining up and extending the right to vote to anyone who makes this place their home.

I’d suggest that’s a better version of soft power – one that’s fit for this century, not the last.

So could an independent Scotland create a better immigration policy with a genuine welcome for those who want to live and work here?

You bet. So let’s grab the chance to build it in 2019.