IF you loathe Boris Johnson as much as the average supporter of Scottish independence does, or indeed any normal human being with a functioning awareness of common decency, you can’t help but enjoy the super-sized portion of schadenfreude that the past few weeks have delivered thanks to the mounting and largely self-inflicted political problems of the worst British prime minister since the last three.

Today’s reality is all very different from the confident predictions of right-wing British nationalists just two years – and a different world – ago. On the back of Johnson’s crushing victory in the December 2019 General Election and the formal departure of the UK from the EU a few weeks later, the Conservatives were going to build a new right-wing British exceptionalist Jerusalem, with a confident and thrusting UK embarking upon the renewal of British ties to the Commonwealth and the construction of what some asinine Tories in Whitehall thought was a good idea to call Empire 2.0.

This was a vision of a successful and influential Britain which the Tories fancied was going to end any talk of Scottish independence for good, as Scots would baulk at the idea of a hard border with the Great British powerhouse of the Brextremists’ wet dreams.

Even the realisation of the gravity of the pandemic early in 2020 only fed the arrogant confidence of British nationalists.

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Anti-independence commentators in the British press penned articles assuring us that, coming as it did on top of Brexit, the greatest global challenge since the Second World War and the most serious threat to public health since the flu epidemic of 100 years ago was going to relegate hopes of Scottish independence back to those political fringes where the Tories, Labour and the LibDems were so desperate to consign it.

The threat and challenges of the pandemic would make Scotland realise it needed the strength, power and global influence of Westminster in order to weather the Covid storms.

Two years later and we see just how delusional British nationalism really is. Brexit and the events of the past two years have exposed Anglo-British nationalism as being backward-looking, nostalgic, romantic, xenophobic, parochial, and inward-looking. In fact it has revealed itself as embodying all the same failings which opponents of Scottish independence imputed to Yes supporters.

The pretensions of the British state have been cruelly exposed, other countries are not queuing up to offer the UK trade deals on highly favourable terms, and the lies, deceit and double dealing of the Johnson regime have destroyed what residual goodwill remained for the UK in Europe.

Equally the pandemic has not proven to be the nail in the coffin of Scottish independence that British nationalists were hoping for. Instead, it has taught Scotland that this country of ours, which opponents of independence have always insisted was too small, is perfectly capable of rising to one of the greatest global crises in living memory.

Even worse for British nationalists we have seen, particularly in recent weeks, that far from relying on Westminster in order to cope with the challenges of the pandemic, the UK Government is actually proving to be a hindrance to an effective Scottish response.

Faced with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, which threatens to overwhelm an already stretched NHS, the First Minister has made no secret of the fact that she would like to go further than the UK Government in re-introducing restrictions. Johnson has always been slow and reluctant to impose the lockdown restrictions necessary for the protection of public health, and is currently the prisoner of his anti-mask and anti-lockdown backbenchers who rebelled in large numbers in last week’s Commons vote on the re-introduction of very limited restrictions in England.

Additionally, he has just suffered the shock resignation of his key Brexit negotiator, who cited the return of some half-hearted anti-Covid measures in England as one of the reasons for his departure, and is reeling from the shock Conservative defeat in last week’s North Shropshire by-election when the Tories lost a seat they had held for 200 years.

Given this febrile political atmosphere, the primary consideration for Johnson when it comes to deciding whether there needs to be a return of lockdown restrictions and working from home will be the internal politics of the Conservative Party and his own career, not what is in the interests of public health. This matters greatly for Scotland because the devolution settlement does nor permit Scotland the borrowing and financial powers necessary to bring back furlough payments and protect livelihoods and businesses.

We now see that, as an independent nation, Scotland would be able to make its own decisions about borrowing and introduce furlough payments if these are deemed necessary for the protection of Scottish public health. Instead we are all being held hostage by the internal priorities and interests of the Conservative Party, a party which Scotland didn’t vote for.

Just last week, one of Johnson’s own scientific advisers warned he is “making the best possible case for Scottish independence” by withholding money needed to fund closing businesses in Scotland to help stem the spread of Covid and at the same time prevent those companies going to the wall.

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SAGE member Stephen Reicher said the British Government was being held back from taking the political action which is required in order to put the brakes on the spread of Omicron by the 100 or so Tory backbenchers over whom the government has lost political authority. This is the failure of the Conservative government, but we are paying the price.

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has haughtily said that Scotland will only receive military assistance to tackle the pandemic as a last resort, saying “It’s not our job if you can’t run the health service in Scotland, Sturgeon.”

The UK makes Scotland pay through the nose for defence, spending a far higher proportion of its budget than comparable nations. The UK is quick to use the armed forces which Scotland helps to pay for in British military adventurism abroad but won’t allow them to be used to help the people in Scotland who pay for them.

It’s clear now that the UK’s bloated military budget is no use to Scotland. As an independent nation there would be no question that the armed forces Scotland pays for should be drafted in to assist when Scotland is in need. Ben Wallace has just destroyed another anti-independence argument.