THE extraordinary , agitated, over the top performance by the Prime Minister in her Downing Street statement on Friday was a worrying illustration of what an angry, confused Brexit mess she has created.

A mess that will harm us all.

Yet earlier in the week we had an even more revealing glimpse of exactly how badly this Prime Minister, who petulantly demands “respect” from others, actually behaves, this time away from the TV cameras. For instead of spending precious time and effort on getting a solution to the looming Brexit disaster she has instead been trying to ensure that the EU, whatever its stance is on the Irish Border, is prevented from giving any support or comfort to Scotland.

READ MORE: Russell – May must apologise to the Scots

The Northern Ireland situation is very difficult. If the UK refuses to finally sign up to the “backstop” solution of an open border (to which it has actually already agreed twice in the negotiations) then there will be, as the Prime Minister now seems to be anticipating, no deal on Brexit.

That would be bad enough but everyone on the island of Ireland knows that worse will follow. The gangsters who previously exploited political division for their own selfish ends could return to the streets. Violence would follow. A foretaste of that was seen in the summer when there was renewed rioting during the marching season.

The Police in Northern Ireland and the Gardai in the South agree that only solution that will preserve peace is to ensure that the border remains entirely open. Politically and administratively that can only be done by ensuring that Northern Ireland is, to all intents and purposes, still in the single market and the customs union. This also implicitly recognizes that the people of Northern Ireland – like the people of Scotland – voted not to leave the EU in the referendum.

But the only Northern Irish party that campaigned for leave – the DUP – stridently opposes this essential outcome. Instead it is backing an idea for flying customs inspections from the extremists around Jacob Rees-Mogg which is so far fetched that it is farcical. And the Prime Minister, whilst sticking to her dead as a dodo Chequers plan, opposes the sensible single market and customs union outcome too.

That is because, as she demonstrated in her speech on Friday, the Prime Minister is as much a hard line Unionist as the DUP MPs who keep her in power. Indeed one of those DUP MPs, Sammy Wilson, was even crowing this week that by refusing the EU solution to the Northern Ireland issue they would also stymie any Scottish desire for a different Brexit outcome.

The Prime Minister’s extreme unbending Unionism has been obvious over the past two years in all her dealings with the devolved administrations. Instead of offering and accepting sensible compromises that have been on the table in all the discussions in the Joint Ministerial Committee she has refused to move an inch.

Instead she has parroted again and again yet another of her mantras about joining the EU as one nation and leaving as one nation (a statement that shows her utter ignorance of the past 20 years of devolution) whilst completely ignoring the mounting evidence of economic and social damage.

And now to add insult to injury we discover that behind the back of the Joint Ministerial Committee she and her Ministers and their officials have been pleading with the EU to do nothing to help Scotland. The Scottish Government knows that Northern Ireland needs special treatment because of its special circumstances. We have never and would never do anything to put peaceful progress on the island of Ireland at risk.

BUT we also have an enormously strong case for remaining in the single market and the customs union. We have repeatedly shown how that solution, which would work for the whole of the UK, could also work for Scotland alone if it were given the backing of the UK in their negotiations with Brussels. And we have made it clear that if Northern Ireland were to achieve similar status, without Scotland having it too, we would suffer even greater financial damage.

So we simply cannot afford to be be ignored. That is why I will be demanding an explanation and an apology for the double dealing. That is why we will increase our advocacy of the single market and customs union solution for us and Northern Ireland. And it is why we can never accept the Prime Minister’s increasingly aggressive – and counterproductive – way of doing business.

Fortunately it is clear that the revelations of the last week will only serve to make the majority of Scots more determined to find a way to ensure that (once the details of any deal are known, or if we collapse into the appalling no deal scenario) the people of Scotland – despite the hostility to Scottish democracy shown by the Tories at Holyrood and at Westminster – get their say on what future they wish.

Because the choice is not, as the Prime Minister keeps saying, between her deal and no deal. For Scotland the choice is actually to be an irrelevant part of a declining, disastrous, Brexit Britain or to take our place as an independent member of a club of equals, the EU.

Michael Russell MSP is Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations