BE afraid. Be very afraid. Rishi Sunak is in full-on General Election campaign mode, and yesterday’s message can be summarised in one of those three-word slogans that are so popular these days.

The message is clear: dangerous times ahead.

Has Project Petrify been identified as the best way to win back lost support for the Conservatives? It’s got to be worth a try. The Prime Minister cannot defend the record of his party over the last 14 years but can certainly try to make UK voters worried about the next five.

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These five years will be dangerous, he says, but on the plus side they will also be “the most transformational our country has ever known”.

When he says “our country”, he of course means his country, not ours.

A naive listener might have wondered if he’d been conferring with John Swinney, who recently declared that Scottish independence can be delivered within the next five years. That would be transformational indeed for the United Kingdom, and reflect the Prime Minister’s assertion that “if we have a bold enough vision, then we should feel confidence, pride, and optimism”.

But no. When he says “we”, he does not mean us. 50% of Scots feel the wrong type of confidence and pride because their idea of “our country” isn’t the same as Sunak’s. The only acceptable pride and confidence is in nuclear-armed Britain, bolstered by a commitment to defence spending that Labour won’t commit to matching.

Scots should not have national pride and confidence at all – according to Sunak, they instead should either be fearful about the threats posed by extremists who are “exploiting ... global conflicts to divide us”, or accept being branded as “extremists” themselves.

“Vocal and aggressive fringe groups are trying to impose their views on the rest of us,” said Sunak in reference to gender activism, adding: “They’re trying to make it morally unacceptable to believe something different and undermine people’s confidence and pride in our own history and identity.”

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But of course it’s not “our” history and identity that matter, because in the very next breath he added: “Scottish nationalists are even trying to tear our United Kingdom apart.”

The audacity is extreme. It is undeniable that Sunak wants his audience to believe that tearing the United Kingdom apart is a morally indefensible aim – at any time, but especially in the dangerous current global climate – and by extension that belief in Scotland’s right to self-govern is morally unacceptable too.

He criticises those who seek to force their views on others then very deliberately lumps half of the Scottish population into the same category as “fringe groups” and implies their aspirations are not just illegitimate but specifically designed to undermine the confidence of the English. Perhaps he should ask himself why, after 14 years of Tory rule, that confidence appears to be so incredibly fragile.

His “them” is us. His concept of fringe concerns includes any that relate exclusively to Scotland, a country whose borders he would struggle to point to on a map.

His suggestion that residents of the UK all have the same understanding of their “history and identity” would be laughable if he wasn’t being so serious. His conflation of the aggressive and threatening misogynists who hide behind the badge of “trans activists” with peaceful, positive Yes supporters is entirely deliberate and malicious.

He should have a word with his Cabinet colleague David Cameron, who by signing the Edinburgh Agreement surely stoked the very extremist fire that Sunak now wants to extinguish.

The then-PM may have hoped he could blow out the candle of support for self-determination, but he failed spectacularly.

Sunak must be forced to explain why demand for a constitutional change that was to be respected in the event of a Yes vote in 2014 is now considered “fringe”, immoral and irresponsible.

In a staggering display of chutzpah, the Prime Minister claimed that under his leadership, “ours will be a country where people can disagree in good faith, but where they must do so with respect and decency for others”. He uttered this statement mere moments after having the cheek to accuse the Labour Party of gaslighting the public. We can infer from his earlier remarks that only Unionists deserve to be treated with respect and decency.

He went on to describe his delusional fantasy plan of continuing to lead “a country where the benefits of belonging to our Union are self-evident to the overwhelming majority of our people.”

By now it is crystal clear that “our people” are not Scottish people. There is absolutely nothing that Sunak could do in the next five years that would persuade an overwhelming majority of Scots that remaining part of the Union was to their benefit.

The man dares to use the phrase “moral clarity” when talking about weapons of mass destruction. He frames the Rwanda scheme as a praiseworthy example of “challenging conventions”.

Rishi Sunak’s not just speaking for another country when he addresses the “UK” – he’s on another planet.