AS Boris Johnson hobbles to the close of another week of damning revelations and spiralling lies, it has become apparent that not only is he not fit to remain as Prime Minister for one minute longer, the UK is coming apart at the seams.

We surely cannot meekly accept that a man incapable of telling the truth on virtually any subject he is asked about has the authority to continue running the country simply because his gutless underlings cannot summon the wherewithal to kick him out the door.

The embarrassment of seeing Tory MPs clinging to the non-appearance (so far) of Sue Gray’s report – which can surely do nothing other than damn their leader’s behaviour, morals and integrity – as an excuse to do nothing pales beside the sight of Britain’s system of government paralysed because the entire Westminster Parliament has ditched its moral compass.

Whether Johnson survives or not is no longer the point. His moral authority to govern the country seeps away with every desperate insistence that he has done nothing wrong, every belligerent refusal to bow to the inevitable and quit. And yet the power to force him out lies only with those who depend on his patronage for their career success.

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But it is not just the crumbling of political integrity that has so fatally undermined the United Kingdom’s future. Every pillar of the once-mighty British establishment is falling down.

Those whose job it is to measure the health of our economy have admitted to effectively fiddling inflation figures to hide the fact that cost of living hikes have been ravaging family budgets. Power companies have been given carte blanche to charge us whatever they like because mismanagement has destroyed the model for keeping us safe and warm. We are now loathed by former European allies with whom we were once joined in common and just purpose.

The Royal Family stands accused of the racist and cruel dismissal of any move towards embracing a real multicultural society while the Queen’s second son stands imperviously against demands for justice after claims of horrific sexual abuse.

There can surely be no rescuing of the Union. It’s time is up, its reign ending amidst death throes which will consign it forever to the past, where it truly belongs. We are living through irreversible changes which will transform our lives. The question is: will that change be for good or for ill?

The case for independence will soon be made again, more forcibly even than we heard in 2014. It is certainly more desperately needed than it was during the campaign which saw support move from around to 27% to 45%. There is nothing left to cling to as even the wreckage of the British status quo is washed away by the waves of anger and disgust.

But let’s remember that the argument for our independence rests not just on the collapse of the alternative. Yes, the Better Together case lies in ruins but the positive argument for Yes has gained power, relevance and authority.

The benefits independence would bring to Scotland would be every bit as significant and necessary if Boris Johnson is gone tomorrow and replaced by a more trustworthy and benign Tory, although no candidates for such a leader currently spring to mind.

%image('13414885', type="article-full", alt="The case for Scottish independence will be strong no matter when Boris Johnson resigns")

Scotland’s natural resources can power our economy in a way that will benefit most of the population, rather than just shareholders in a handful of multinational companies. The progressive ambitions which defeated homophobia in the dark days of the Section 28 debate, and then powered on to establish the right to gay marriage, will put equality and well-being at the heart of our country. Our determination to save the NHS from privatisation will ensure an effective health service for everyone rather than just those who can afford to pay for it. Our education system will protect the right to free university and college places.

The big decisions on our economy and our future will at last be in our own hands rather than those with other priorities.

We should remember always that our desire for the powers of independence is no strange or unusual thing. These powers are enjoyed by most of the countries of the world, many of whom would be glad to have a fraction of the resources and advantages Scotland enjoys.

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The truth is that the move to independence has never been that nerve-wracking leap into the great unknown so regularly portrayed by Unionists. It certainly isn’t that now, as the status quo is washed away by the tides of history. But the argument for Scotland’s independence has always been simply a call for those powers considered normal all over the globe. It is not Scotland which is out of step for wanting them. It is the UK which is out of step for refusing to countenance us having them.

All this is why the biggest story for Scotland this week has not been the increasingly unhinged behaviour of a Prime Minister finally caught out in a web of lies but was instead the news that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is now ready to kick-start the campaign and the journey to a second independence referendum by the end of 2023 – which has been her target for months despite the understandable impatience of some of her troops.

Of course the Unionists have started braying already. They complain that the Scottish Government promised it would not act on indyref2 until the pandemic was over. They say that ministers’ attention must remain resolutely fixed on Covid because Scots are uniquely unable to think of more than one thing at a time.

The truth is rather different. In fact the Scottish Government has had a mandate for a second independence referendum since well before the pandemic started. That mandate was most recently renewed at the Scottish election in May last year, at which the SNP was the overwhelming winner, with a commitment to holding a referendum – preferably before the end of 2023 uppermost in its manifesto. It very narrowly missed what would have been a historic second Holyrood majority and that majority has now been secured through a power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens, who had a similar indyref commitment in their manifesto.

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To suggest, as the opposition parties want to, that the Scottish people do not want that second referendum is contradicted by the very clear evidence to the contrary delivered by that election.

That evidence suggests strong support for the message that far from being a distraction from the urgent need to rebuild our economy in the wake of Covid, independence is an essential element of that response.

Had the Scottish Government been listening only to its own supporters it would have moved to hold indyref2 months ago. Instead it held off from doing so as first the Delta variant and then Omicron threw up new and difficult challenges. Westminster showed no similar restraint, hatching plans to steal Holyrood powers, to promote the Union in ever more ludicrous ways – and to demean Scotland by either ignoring our elected representatives or mocking them as Boris Johnson did with snide remarks about SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford’s weight.

%image('13145389', type="article-full", alt="Boris Johnson made a snide remark about Ian Blackford's weight during PMQs")

You do not have to be an SNP supporter to feel the sting of insults delivered by an arrogant lack of respect on display day after day on the government benches in the UK Parliament. It is not just the party of government in Scotland who are being insulted but the voters who decided in their hundreds of thousands to send SNP representatives to London.

It is simply against the public interest to wait any longer before moving to put plans for a second independence referendum in place. We need the powers of independence to properly rebuild our economy and our country from the damage wrought by the pandemic. It is the United Kingdom which is too distracted by its own implosion to take the radical and brave action needed to transform our future.

Scotland has the courage, the ability and the determination to emerge from the horror of the last few years inspired by a vision of a better, fairer and renewed country. Without action now, we risk being shackled to a failing state and seeing that vision disappearing under the ruins of a union finally and indisputably shown to be unfit for purpose. Without action now we will lose a historic opportunity to create the modern Scotland we all dream of living in.