YOU can talk your way out of anything, my mother used to tell me. It took a while to realise that was not a compliment.

It’s taking longer for the penny to drop with Boris Johnson. Right now, he’s talking his way out of responsibility for a likely EU trade war over his decision to ditch the Northern Ireland Protocol – the only way he knows how, by throwing googlies, majoring on Ukraine and talking emptily about other things.

By all accounts, he showed “a lot of enthusiasm” for President Macron’s idea of a European Political Community – a middle-ground EU membership for Ukraine – which the UK could also join. Of course, within hours his aides “clarified” that Boris was “just being polite”.

Meanwhile, a new diversion was being concocted – Johnson’s cringe-making pretence that “le bromance” with France continues, even though talks with Macron had to avoid Channel crossings, Brexit, fishing and the AUKUS defence pact to happen at all.

A dutiful British press obliged Big Dog by celebrating “his” achievement in persuading France to send more arms and troops to Ukraine – though there’s no evidence that wasn’t already Macron’s intent.

But as MPs vote to axe the NI Protocol – prompting Brussels to launch three separate lawsuits – Boris ain’t fooling world leaders.

Meanwhile, nothing conceals the trouble Johnson is in back home. The news that he plans to stand for a third term as leader brings Monty Python’s “bring out your dead” sketch to mind – with the Prime Minister as the unwanted peasant who claims he’s getting better before being smacked on the back of the heid with a shovel by a grasping son.

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Since last week’s by-election defeats, a Labour briefing to The Sunday Times suggests six unnamed Tory MPs are about to defect, 30 letters of no confidence have reportedly been resubmitted to the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, and Tory rebels will be standing in impending elections to that Tory Star Chamber so they can change the rules and have another crack at deposing their terminally wounded leader.

One might ask if a generation has passed since their last attempt three weeks ago – but that would be churlish. The Tories may drone on about generations when it comes to a second crack at Scots independence post-Brexit – but they’re entirely unconcerned about changing, ditching or dodging rules they once regarded as sacrosanct.

Indeed, no generation has passed since the Northern Ireland Protocol was signed off in 2019 and described as “fantastic”. Yet here we are, three short years later, with Johnson shredding an international treaty he signed because of difficulties that were “unforeseen”. Aye right.

A leaked Treasury paper in 2019 directly contradicts that claim with plenty of detail about the likely checks and new paperwork. And since the Office for National Statistics data shows Northern Ireland’s relative recovery from the pandemic has been second only to London, many would contest the idea there is currently an economic emergency in Belfast at all.

Laughably, Tory Europe Minister James Cleverly suggests its strong showing might be down to the size of its public sector, not remaining inside the EU single market as Scots also voted to do six years ago.

The blatant double standards would be almost comical, if the future of two nations didn’t hang in the balance.

As I write, Liz Truss is urging the “Mother of Parliaments” to break international law with a Northern Ireland Protocol Bill that will let British exporters to NI choose between UK and EU standards and remove the European Court of Justice from any role in disputes.

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“A relatively trivial set of adjustments,” says Boris Johnson. But perhaps it will be the “relatively trivial” straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Tory backbenchers are piling the pressure on Cabinet members to “do a Dowden” and resign before Johnson reaches the “dry land” of the summer recess.

In response, the Tory leader is pounding out empty headlines and unworkable ideas – such as the extension of steel tariffs to protect Britain’s industry, even though he’s been warned this breaches the World Trade Organisation rules.

So, trade wars with the EU and WTO are in the offing. Not a bad week’s work for Britain’s arch disrupter.

We have reached a dangerous endgame where the Prime Minister will say anything to produce an arresting headline before ditching his unworkable idea until the next awkward moment arises so it can resurface and die back all over again.

Now, none of this is telling Yessers anything they don’t know. But the meltdown of Brand Boris and, by extension, Westminster’s moral authority means the backdrop for Nicola Sturgeon’s indyref2 route map announcement today could hardly be better.

That might be down to cunning design, a desire to announce the least contentious parts of the new indy offer before the summer, or just plain good luck. Whatever.

A good leader is lucky. Now that’s not to say Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t developed her own “authenticity gap” with annual announcements about an imminent second referendum.

But we are where we are.

And the First Minister is quite right to say Westminster has “taken a wrecking ball” to the idea of the UK as a voluntary partnership of nations by denying the democratic right of Scots to choose our own future.

READ MORE: Theresa May says 'not legal' NI Protocol Bill will 'diminish' UK reputation

Questions abound. How will she square the circle of an officially endorsed, legal referendum that doesn’t rely on Section 30 powers from a bullish, cornered Boris?

Perhaps yesterday’s National gives a clue. In it, the FM says the case for a referendum is “now as much a Scottish democracy movement as a Scottish independence movement”.

Does that suggest she backs Aberdeen University law lecturer Scott Crichton Styles, who argues an advisory referendum could ask: “Should the British Parliament grant legal permission to the Scottish Parliament to hold a referendum on Scottish independence? Yes or No?”

If this “petitionary” referendum was legally authorised and backing for indyref2 achieved, Crichton Styles argues, it would become politically impossible for Westminster to deny Scotland a second vote on the substantive issue because “instead of rejecting a Section 30 request from the Scottish Parliament they would be rejecting a request from the Scottish people”.

Is this what Ms Sturgeon is planning? Will Yessers wanting a 2023 indyref accept a vote on the right to hold one instead? Will the media, who have been waiting for the Scottish whistle to blow since 2019? It’s possible nothing less than the FM’s formal request for a Section 30 order will constitute a proper kick-off for them … or for the electorate.

So, expectations of the First Minister are high. But that’s not a bad place to be, if the FM and SNP have finally decided it’s time to stop talking their way out of indyref difficulties.

We all need to hear something workable today, something that can focus Scottish minds over the summer and contrast powerfully with the meltdown of governance, probity, stability and standards at Westminster.

After all, fortune favours the bold.