SO, the chickens are fleeing the coop.

Rishi Sunak faces a welter of embarrassing by-election defeats as Tory MPs named in Boris Johnson’s retiring honours list must decide if their future looks more secure in the House of Lords. Tough choice, eh?

Of course, there is a certain schadenfreude over the interesting dilemma facing Alister Jack who must choose between ennoblement and his current seat in the Scottish Borders.

Thanks to a new ruling by the Lords admin team, MPs cannot be a member of both houses. Obviously. So, which will he choose?

It seems the Scottish Secretary means to turn his back on a title and go down with the Tory ship. Doubtless he has another route to the Lords lined up.

READ MORE: Alister Jack accused of 'sleazy backroom deal' after rejecting peerage

But beyond the momentary pleasure of chucking verbal pelters at former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, close Boris ally Nigel Adams, and COP26 president Alok Sharma as they scuttle off, “elevated” from trouble by their discredited ex-boss – does this really matter?

Yes it does, on three counts.

Firstly, no government would relish three almost simultaneous by-elections (maybe four if Alister jumps) during the run-up to a “difficult” general election next May, when they lie 10 points behind Labour.

All the evidence suggests the Conservatives are set for a gubbing anyway, but a run of by-election defeats only weeks before polling could provide the veritable tin lid.

Secondly, the casual way Johnson has been able to reward his most loyal lieutenants should disgust any democrat.

Like all Tory leaders before him, the pished PM – to paraphrase Mhairi Black – promised to whittle down the world’s second largest unelected chamber. But this latest addition demonstrates why that’ll never happen – not even under Labour.

A party scared of mentioning Brexit even as it goes totally pear-shaped is hardly going to rock the Kasbah by cancelling the gongs, titles, daily allowances, status and peerages that let Westminster parties bribe and control their MPs.

The Lords will keep getting bigger – swollen with fearties from the disintegrating ranks of the Conservative Party.

If no-one south of the border gives a toss anymore, we should notice.

Thirdly, it’s a sign of the times. Despite all the gung-ho talk by Sunak about stopping small boats, folk with money are queueing up to leave the sinking ship.

And I don’t just mean weak-chinned Tory MPs. Who, let’s face it, are eminently replaceable. But also key industries.

Car manufacturing to be more specific. And the company that owns Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat to be absolutely precise.

Yesterday Stellantis – one of the world’s biggest carmakers – cut through the denial, displacement and scapegoating of a government on the rocks, to tell it like it is.

They will close UK factories if the government doesn’t renegotiate the Brexit deal.

The CEO of Amsterdam-based Stellantis, Carlos Tavares said: “If the cost of EV manufacturing in the UK becomes uncompetitive and unsustainable operations close, manufacturers will … relocate operations outside of the UK, as seen with previously established UK manufacturers such as Ford and Mini.”

Yip, it’s not just the nasty old Dutch giving Britain a bye, it’s also brands that were (originally) British.

BMW is making the new electric Mini in Germany. Honda is investing in the US after closing its site in Swindon.

Why? Not just trade barriers, but the lack of electric car battery plants in the UK as the world shifts away from diesel and petrol cars.

Earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted Tesla’s Elon Musk, who hinted he might invest in a huge battery plant – dubbed a gigafactory – in France.

The UK’s biggest car manufacturer, Jaguar Land Rover, is set to build a gigafactory in Spain – not the UK. Why?

Because EU rules and basic commercial viability mean electric vehicles need home-made EV batteries. And whoops, we don’t really have any.

Just as the Ukraine-induced energy crisis led to the discovery that – whoops – we don’t really have gas storage facilities either.

Actually, whether it’s battery power or gas supplies, just in time Britain doesn’t really do storage. We trade. Or rather the spivs and speculators trade, bet, hedge and make millions out of last-minute deals to buy vital supplies from more careful and productive neighbours.

Make stuff ourselves? Store stuff ourselves? In the Tory book, that kind of thinking is for losers. Seat of the pants does nicely. And if anything goes wrong, there’s always Brussels or unions or migrants to blame.

So, we have no industrial strategy, no joint working on the green transition and no publicly-owned battery company to guarantee jobs and private investment.

Instead, there’s deregulation and the promise of big bucks and western Europe’s lowest wages. Yet, strangely, even that heady mixture doesn’t attract the capitalists.

They know a real loser economy when they see one. And sadly, that’s Britain – Scotland included.

Compare and contrast the experience of perhaps the world’s most regulated society, Sweden.

Gothenburg – despite suffering the loss of the world’s largest shipyards in the 1980s – has become Sweden’s second city by population, its biggest centre for innovation (with 34% of R&D investment) and the world’s most sustainable tourism destination.

It has the largest tram system in northern Europe with 12 lines, a fleet of electric buses, hybrid river ferries and the continuing presence of Volvo – set to celebrate its centenary in Gothenburg by switching completely to electric car production by 2030.

That’s possible because Volvo and Swedish battery pioneers Northvolt are building a new car battery manufacturing plant in Gothenburg, that will employ 3000 people and power half a million cars per year when it opens in 2025.

The factory itself will be powered by renewable energy, since battery production is a large part of the total life cycle carbon emissions of electric vehicles. And the search for alternatives to finite lithium is also being pioneered by their Gothenburg-based team.

But how does this square with the city’s green credentials?

Gothenburg council is conducting a pilot project with Volvo to wirelessly charge service vehicles like taxis, ambulance and delivery trucks which will be hard to remove from city streets, but it’s committed to drastically reducing the number of cars owned by residents.

And yet despite the “deep-green” nature of the city council, Volvo is investing in Gothenburg, not leaving.

Now, how the heck did little Sweden (pop 10 million) manage that, as members of the dreaded EU, with relatively high pay and one of the world’s highest rates of union membership?

Simply because its government – national and local – plans and collaborates with companies big, small, public and private to build what the country needs instead of relying on the ingenuity and farsightedness of others.

Indeed, Sweden will be building what everyone needs if they can perfect the battery storage a succession of Tory governments simply forgot. This is what Britain and Scotland have lost.

Partly by dismantling manufacturing, partly by resting on the UK’s monumental laurels and totally though the self-harming vanity of Brexit.

Jings. If only someone had predicted this would come to pass.