I’M not sure what I shudder harder at: how many times in this column over the years of the Brexit process and since that I have had to mention Boris Johnson – or how many times I will have to mention him in the future.

This lamest of lame ducks now hangs like a bloated albatross across this hapless UK Government. Having long lost any moral authority, he has – after Monday’s 60%-40% vote – lost any political authority as well. He is in office, but the clock is ticking. Winning an election with 60% of the vote for the first time is something to celebrate, winning a vote of no confidence by that margin is simply defeat postponed.

So what now? For my part, I think we SNP MPs at Westminster have done enough to make our position clear, and now the Tories have failed to get rid of Johnson (below) – let them deal with own their psychodrama. Our job is to hold them to account not in and of itself but by at every opportunity contrasting our proposition – independence in Europe – with the reality of this squalid shambles. I won Stirling in 2019 from the Tories and know well that a number of moderate pro-EU Conservatives lent me a vote, often reluctantly.

The National: Boris Johnson

The number times I heard: “I’d usually be Conservative but I hate these Conservatives” was remarkable. The significant thing is that I’m still hearing that sentiment and while there are still plenty Conservative voters out there, plenty of them are appalled by this government.

We need to help them see the better path that independence offers. There will still be Conservatives in an independent Scotland and they’ll be a necessary part of the political spectrum.

I’d argue that independence will be the genesis of genuine Scottish politics, where we can all put the constitution to one side and focus instead on how best to use the newly won powers at home and the newly regained opportunities of EU membership abroad. No more excuses, let’s get on with it.

I think that is an appealing prospect, pitched right, for a lot of the people Boris Johnson and his enablers are alienating. I’ll give just one example, and there are a hundred more we are working up to a genuinely appealing prospectus.

READ MORE: Scots leaders warn UK over pulling out of €95bn EU science fund

Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation with a budget of just short of €100 billion. It tackles climate change, helps to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals and boosts the EU’s competitiveness and growth. It creates jobs, fully engages the EU’s talent pool, boosts economic growth, promotes industrial competitiveness and optimises investment impact within a strengthened European Research Area.

I was on the committee of the European Parliament that drafted the programme and it is close to my heart. It is, quite deliberately, a science-based industrial policy for the EU. The science is encouraged to collaborate with business and the IP generated is always designed to be commercial.

I’ve seen in Stirling and elsewhere just how good a use it has been put to, creating world-class science as well as world-class jobs. People who say we no longer make anything in Scotland really need to get out more. We’re a science and research world leader and Horizon Europe has been a key part of that success.

And the UK is almost certainly leaving it, an act of utter vandalism.

Just this week the UK Government finally blustered that it was preparing their own alternative to Horizon Europe. Previously, even the most wired-to-the-moon Brexiteer recognised the value of cross-border scientific co-operation and there seemed a consensus that the UK – and Scotland with it – should continue to be effectively part of it as an associate country.

But this has been snarled up in the unseemly rows over the Northern Ireland Protocol, which the UK Government has flirted with unilaterally amending or withdrawing from.

This is to make two fundamental mistakes – the Northern Ireland Protocol is not a standalone document, it is an integral part of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement the UK solemnly signed with the EU as the basis of the ongoing relationship post-EU membership.

Secondly, it forgets that the EU is the sort of organisation that expects you to abide by your word and one part of the document is as important as any other. You don’t get to pick and choose once it’s signed. So continued co-operation under Horizon Europe stops if parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol stop. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. And full and enthusiastic membership of Horizon Europe will come with independence, no ifs, no buts, no maybes.

The National: Loyalists take part in an anti-Northern Ireland Protocol rally in Portadown, Co Armagh

I’ve said repeatedly that getting back into the EU will put rocket boosters on our economy, and it will, but it is so much more than that.

The EU is not a just a free trade area, it does so much more.

Horizon Europe is a science-based industrial strategy – we’ll not need to develop our own as the best brains in Europe have done our thinking for us and the best brains in Scotland will be delighted to get back into it.

This will create the smart jobs, the smart green growth and the international profile we will simply never achieve being part of the UK’s Noddy replacement scheme.

We have already seen with the Turing Scheme, the mean and nasty UK so-called replacement for the Erasmus student exchange programme, that the UK version doesn’t come close.

So let’s let the Tories own their failings – let’s use their actual policies to promote ours and the better future for Scotland we all want to see.