MR Rees-Mogg has pointed out that somebody Scottish said “once in a generation” and that means it’s a promise. His “honourable friend” Mr Gove said “[it’s important that] people can have confidence in the promises made by politicians” – so now we can believe every Tory promise! Who would have thought!

Mr Fraser uttered on radio the words “if there is to be a referendum...” so he has said there is to be one, and according to Mr Rees-Mogg’s logic that’s also a promise, which according to Mr Gove people can have confidence in. Mr Major recently said it’s inevitable there will be another independence referendum, so there we have yet another promise which must endure for 25 to 40 years before it runs out.

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Tory politicians and their fellow-travellers are now on notice. If every casual throwaway phrase they use becomes a promise which we can all have confidence in for a generation, they’ll have to be a lot more tight-lipped. And before the next referendum we’ll be expecting that “powerhouse parliament”, that “near-federalism”, that secure place in the EU, and Mr Johnson’s body lying dead in a ditch...

just for starters.

Derek Ball