WHEN it finally happened, I let out a gasp, and was quickly reprimanded by my eight-year-old, who was worried that the baby caterpillars we are raising to butterflyhood might not like loud noises.

That gasp, which came at 6pm last Tuesday when Sajid Javid announced his resignation as health secretary, was the first of many. What followed was the most enthralling, infuriating and downright bonkers few days of UK politics in recent memory.

Where Javid led, others followed. The ship was rapidly sinking and all those who had sat by quite content as the drunken Captain Johnson veered dangerously between icebergs and cargo ships, suddenly decided that they couldn’t “in all good conscience” serve in his government any longer.

The many, many Tory resignation letters that were published during a frantic 48 hours were full of faux regret and self-serving reflections on the importance of trust in politics.

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Amid all the emotive language and barnstorming speeches, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that Johnson – who they universally described as being unfit for office – is the same man they put their confidence in via secret ballot only one month ago.

They were willing to endorse his lies and lawbreaking when there was still a chance he might be an electoral asset to the Conservative Party. It was only when it became clear that the public had endured one scandal too many and were fed up with the stench of sleaze coming from Downing Street that they came to the belated conclusion that his time was up.

After trying – and failing – to assert his squatters’ rights in Number 10, Boris Johnson accepted reality. The gig was up. Save for a few committed oddballs such as Nadine Dorries, few will mourn the end of his premiership.

In the speech announcing his departure, the Prime Minister was true to form. He was muddled and resentful to the very end, blaming others for his failings and accepting no personal responsibility for the series of unforced errors that brought his tenure to an end.

The next few months will be challenging for the UK, not least because Boris Johnson has assembled a Z-list cast to serve in his caretaker Cabinet until a new leader is chosen.

So here we go again. Scotland now watches on helplessly as members of a party that hasn’t won an election here in my lifetime select our new prime minister.

The runners and riders are as disparate and desperate a bunch as you can imagine.

Conventional wisdom suggests the party will want to go in a new direction now that the mad king has finally been dethroned.

If it is looking for a safe pair of hands, a figure like Jeremy Hunt or Sajid Javid might seem appealing.

But this is a party membership that looked at serial liar and cheater Boris Johnson and thought, “He might be a good shout”, so it’s just as plausible that they crown somebody in his image.

Reports in yesterday’s papers suggested that the different camps are already gearing up to fight dirty. There are rumours that there are dossiers of secrets and scandals about the various contenders ready to be leaked to the press.

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Exposing dark secrets might have the desired effect of damaging a specific candidate but it could also have other, unintended consequences.

Johnson’s government was brought down by sleaze. But we know the rot isn’t confined to him. The party won’t automatically be decontaminated when he trudges out of Downing Street for the last time. It goes much deeper. That they allowed him to remain in post for so long highlights that fact better than any salacious front-page splash could.

Already, we’re seeing the usual questions asked of the wannabe Tory prime ministers. Do you promise to treat immigrants like the scum of the earth? Would you enthusiastically push the nuclear button to obliterate hundreds of thousands of lives?

Will you pledge to reduce social security spending to ensure benefit claimants can afford no more than one meal per day?

To get to the heart of just how Conservative the candidates are, in recent days they’ve also been asked about their stance on indyref2.

Yesterday, the favoured candidates of the “moderates”, Jeremy Hunt and Javid, were asked whether they would allow Scotland a vote on its future. Both tried to appear reasonable on the basic issue of whether Scotland as a nation has the right to decide to leave what we’re told is a voluntary union of equals.

They didn’t quite manage it though. Neither said, “No, never.”

Both said – you guessed it – maybe, but “not now”.

It’s clear that whatever prime minister Scotland is saddled with, they will be no more respectful of our democratic wishes than the last one was.

Which hopefully makes it more likely that they become Scotland’s last UK prime minister.