WHAT can they know of England, who only England know? asked Kipling in his 1891 poem “The English Flag”, a work dripping with jingoism and fervour for empire.

The phrase was apparently first uttered by his mother and although at the time it was taken as critical of the lack of support for those serving “England’s empire in far flung places” (and particularly in the armed forces), it is now used to indicate the need for wider experience and a broader, more accurate, world view than you can get by just staying at home.

I am surprised ardent Brexiteer right-wingers, much in evidence recently as a result of the bizarrely embarrassing “National Conservatism” conference in London, haven’t taken up Kipling with more enthusiasm.

He often reflects their absurdly misplaced anglo-centrism and their wrong-headed belief that the universe turns around them.

I was struck by that approach when walking through a shopping mall on the outskirts of Bucharest two weeks ago today.

Contrary to the bombastic assertion on Twitter by Stephen Kerr that “the world stopped to watch the coronation”, for those milling around it seemed just a normal Saturday shopping outing.

There was, I admit, a television in a mobile phone shop tuned to the ceremony, but as far as I could make out, no one was paying it any attention.

Of much greater interest to most was the astonishing range of foodstuffs and other goods available in the huge supermarket part of the complex. This abundance was an echo of what I had seen a couple of days before in a smaller, but brand new, food store (part of a German chain) several hours’ drive to the north in the Carpathian Mountains.

Fifty years ago, the conventional view of those European countries behind the Iron Curtain was that their reluctant citizens were trapped behind impenetrable borders and unwillingly cut off from the consumer economy that had developed in the west.

Now, one could argue that the tables have, at least partially, been turned

The former communist states which have become full members of the EU have used the advantages of that position to secure heavy investment in infrastructure and growing economies which have greatly increased the standard of living of their citizens.

Polish GDP per head will overtake that of the UK by 2030 and whilst Romania and other states including Bulgaria are still not yet near that position, they are forging forward.

For example, new civic builds are often architecturally adventurous and new housing is springing up everywhere.

That success is reflected in those food stores.

Chains from other European countries are vying with each other to establish a customer base, and the sheer range of offerings – particularly of fresh produce – is vastly superior to what we see in Scotland.

Nobody would deny the difficulties that such countries still face, but they face them as part of a highly successful and mutually beneficial club, which is also focused on joint security in the face of the threat posed by their proximity to Russia.

For many in Scotland, their only view of Brexit is of that given by the media, which is in the greatest part still refusing to recognise the full horror of the Tory-imposed and now Labour-backed economic and social disaster.

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But you can easily get another view of what has happened by travelling to an EU state and you don’t need to go as far as Romania.

Irish GDP per capita is now double that of the UK and the standard of living noticeably higher. Once again, the range of goods in food stores is greater and there is a confidence there that is absent in Scotland; a situation not helped by the incessant talking down and de-legitimising of Scottish aspirations in the media, hand in glove with Unionist Brexit backing politicians at Holyrood and Westminster.

Of course, Brexit is about more than what’s on the supermarket shelves, or even the ease of travel – for leisure and work – for EU citizens between EU member states.

As car manufacturer Stellantis demonstrated this week, the problems of being outside the EU with regard to various technical but still very important issues such as that of rules of origin may well – as was predicted early on in the Brexit process – result in a drastic reduction of motor and other manufacturing in the UK.

The reaction to those warnings from government and its supporting media has, as usual, been to bleat about EU unfairness while expressing completely false optimism that there will soon be renewed negotiations to sort the problem.

In fact, the determination of the EU to maintain the integrity of the existing single market has been clear from the start of Brexit and was never going to change. In addition, there is absolutely no EU interest in re-opening the final agreement.

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The only reason that the NI Protocol was re-visited was because it affected a member state – Ireland – and because of the commitment of the EU to the Irish peace process.

Saving the UK motor industry or the UK economy isn’t on the agenda for the EU. They have moved on from Brexit and no longer have any interest in it, except as a baleful example of a foolish self-harming mistake by what is now a poorer country.

The damage to our citizens, companies, communities and country caused by Brexit is simply going to get worse. The gap between us and those who remain in membership is going to go on widening.

The only solution is rejoining and that can only come about with Scottish independence.

But there is another truism that became clearer when observing Scotland from afar.

Independence is perfectly achievable but it needs a unity of purpose from the national movement, a unity that must be used to confront the false media narrative of failure and its Unionist cheerleaders.

And alas that unity seems further away than ever.