BORIS Johnson has a plan to stop Scotland’s march to independence dead in its tracks. No really, stop laughing at the back there. But before the massed ranks of yooniverse denizens get too excited, they need to remind themselves that this is a Borisplan. So it’s not really a plan as such, more a couple of rough ideas jotted down on his girlfriend’s laptop in between playing Candycrush and looking at the IKEA catalogue for ideas for staged photos with garden furniture.

The likely leader of the Tory Party has his eye on the Saviour of the Union™ gig now that Ruth Davidson’s chances of getting it are as good as Douglas Ross’s chances of delivering a speech in the Commons that doesn’t sound like a petulant sulk. So the favourite contender for the Conservative leader has come up with a tartan unicorn to go along with the Brexit unicorn which already figures so prominently in British politics. The great idea that Boris Johnson proposes is that the prime minister, ie him, will have a lovely shiny new title to go along with prime minister, first lord of the Treasury, and minister for the civil service. Henceforth he’ll be the minister for the Union as well.

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Well that will convert hundreds of thousands of Yes voters to opposing independence. All over Scotland, Yes hubs and groups are full of independence campaigners saying: “Well I was a convinced supporter of Scottish self-determination, but now an entitled Etonian has awarded himself another title I’m totally backing the UK.”

He should just have gone the whole hog and called himself the Governor General of the Caledonian Colonies who’s head of the Department of State for Sticking Union Flags on Things.

It got even worse when Johnson referred to the nations of the UK as the “awesome foursome”, like the worst superhero movie ever made. Scotland’s superpower is invisibility. No one in the Conservative Party has seen us during the past three years of the Brexit process.

The Conservatives have no real idea how to counter growing support for independence in Scotland. They know on some level that the only way to do it is to give up on Brexit, but most of them would rather pursue Brexit than chase after Scotland. If the Conservative Party were to be given a choice between Brexit or Scotland, Scotland comes a very distant second.

What this means is that the British Government can’t actually do anything positive to meet Scottish concerns, because that would only antagonise the Conservative Party in the rest of the UK. They certainly can’t soften Brexit, which is the only thing that might, just might, have some serious political traction with the Scottish electorate. When it comes down to it, Scotland just isn’t important enough to them.

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This arises from a fundamental mismatch between the Scottish Unionist concept of Unionism, and the concept of Unionism which is widespread in the Conservative Party outwith Scotland. The Scottish Unionist fancies him or herself as belonging to a Scotland which is a partner in a Union with the other three nations of the UK. They see the UK as a multinational state. English Conservatives don’t see it that way. Their conception of the UK is Greater England. In their minds the UK is England, and those little countries which have thrown their lot in with England. To their way of thinking, that means that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland must make accommodations to English political realities. The opposite is unthinkable. Their England must not and will not be constrained by Scotland.

That mindset was exposed by another remark made by Boris Johnson over the weekend as he was touting his new Department for Union Jackery. He made the revealing comment that England doesn’t need a Parliament of its own as it already has one in the Palace of Westminster.

When asked about the possibility of English devolution he replied, “We have an England-only parliament. It’s in Westminster.” If England’s parliament and the UK Parliament are the same thing, then England must be the same thing as the UK. Scotland, you have been warned.

The National:

Since the only option which might work in Scotland are non-options for the Tories, all that leaves is plastering Union flegs on everything in the hope that it will make people love them and lecturing us about all the things that the UK does for us as though we were a shower of ingrates. It’s essentially the same strategy as an irate mother dragging a greeting wean behind her on a wet Wednesday half day closing in a run down seaside resort and screaming “You’ll bloody enjoy yourself!” at her offspring. Scotland isn’t enjoying itself.

What we’re seeing here is the very same people who queue up to tell us that pro-independence marches and rallies are a waste of time because people are only put off by flag waving, waving flags of their own.

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They believe that waving a Saltire doesn’t work as a tool to persuade someone to vote for independence, but somehow waving a Union fleg will magically change Scottish minds about remaining a part of a state that the likely leader of the Conservative Party and future prime minister himself thinks is a Greater England.

The Tories have now put all their chlorinated chicken eggs in the Brexit basket. That’s the only hope remaining to them. They’re desperate to make sure that Brexit happens in the hope that it will change the minds of a deeply unconvinced Scottish electorate. As Boris Johnson said at the weekend: “Brexit done sensibly and properly holds out a fantastic prospect of unifying our country in all sorts of ways and cementing the Union.”

The problem with that is Brexit is neither sensible nor proper. There is no way in which Brexit can produce any deal with the EU which is better than what the UK has as an EU member, and the weakened and diminished UK which emerges post-Brexit will no longer be a part of the enormous trading bloc that is the EU and will be the junior and weaker partner in trade negotiations with the USA, China, or Japan.

The Conservatives are running out of options, and running out of excuses. A new poll published at the weekend showed that a majority of voters in Scotland now want an early independence referendum. And the verdict on the UK that they give when that vote does take place is unlikely to be a favourable one, no matter how many Union flegs are plastered on things.