IF you want to give yourself a stroke – and I speak from personal experience – you could always tune in to BBC Question Time. This week's episode, which comes from Kelso in the Borders, displays the BBC's usual definition of balance, featuring two outright Tories: Scottish Tory MSP Meghan Gallacher and Kate Andrews, the economics editor for the increasingly far-right Spectator magazine.

Rounding out the 40% Tory and 60% anti-independence panel, because BBC balance, are Labour's Scottish branch office manager Anas Sarwar, who will be at pains to tell us he's not a nationalist while keeping his Union-flag-themed Labour membership card firmly in his pocket. He will defend his boss Keir Starmer, who this week urged Tory voters in England to vote Labour in order to stop immigration.

The National: Scottish Labour's Anas Sarwar (left) and UK Labour leader Keir Starmer

On the other side, Scottish Government minister Angela Constance will be joined by Stephen Noon, one of those “critical friends” which the independence movement possesses in such abundance.

The programme will be hosted as usual by Fiona Bruce, and the only question is to what extent she will be able to keep her sneering contempt for anything vaguely left-wing or pro-independence in check as she takes questions from a suspiciously pro-Tory audience.

We should at least be grateful that the panel does not also include Nigel Farage or another representative of the extreme right-wing Reform party, which despite having no MPs or representation in any of the devolved parliaments, and which boasts just six councillors in England, has been platformed on Question Time on numerous occasions.

The programme is broadcast on Thursday evening on BBC1. Alternatively, if your smart TV is controlled by one of those voice activated home assistants, you can just say out loud: "Alexa, I'm a self-loathing masochist."

The worst cohort of MPs in history?

Rishi Sunak is potentially facing another embarrassing and damaging by-election as yet another of his MPs is on the verge of receiving a lengthy suspension from the House of Commons for "a very serious" breach of lobbying rules.

The Commons Standards Committee has recommended that Scott Benton, the MP for Blackpool South, be suspended from the Commons for 35 days after its investigation found that he told undercover reporters that he would be willing to lobby on behalf of a fake investment fund and leak a confidential policy document.

Benton (below) also indicated to the reporters that not only was he willing to break the rules, but that other MPs had done so in the past and would be willing to do so again. The committee found that this brought the House into disrepute.

The National: Scott Benton

At this stage, “bringing the Westminster Parliament into disrepute” is probably academic, as in the eyes of the public the reputation of the House of Commons is not so much tarnished as it is rusted away leaving nothing but a nasty stain in the dirt.

Should MPs vote to accept the Committee's recommendation of a 35-day suspension, this would be sufficient to trigger a recall petition, which if successful would lead to a by-election that the Tories would almost certainly lose.

Benton would become the 25th MP to be suspended from the Commons during this Parliament. Labour MP Chris Bryant, the former chair of the House of Commons standards committee, has said that the bad behaviour of MPs has made this the "worst Parliament in history”.

Bryant laid the blame at the door of those in power turning a blind eye to poor conduct, a temptation by politicians to protect their own, and ingrained behaviours and attitudes in Westminster. No doubt this latest shameful episode will be followed by hand wringing, promises to tighten up the rules, and then nothing will happen, just the same as after every other scandal about poor standards of behaviour and inadequate rules at Westminster.

Europe's view of Scotland in the UK

German MEP Terry Reintke has said that there is "a lot of positive feeling towards Scotland" in Europe during an interview on The National's new podcast Our Friends in Europe. She also stressed that the Scottish Government was viewed far more positively in European capitals than the UK Government.

Reintke said: "I think there is a lot of positive feeling towards Scotland because … I believe in every single constituency there was a majority for remaining in the European Union – so I think that is really seen and appreciated.

"Plus I think reversely to sometimes the performance of the UK Government, the Scottish Government has always been seen as a very reasonable, a very reliable, and a very sensible partner.”

READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: Why is David Cameron raging at the First Minister? There's one reason

It's scarcely any wonder then that David Cameron and the Conservatives are terrified of Scottish Government ministers meeting with their European counterparts without an official from the Foreign Office breathing down their necks.

Cameron, the man whose arrogant hubris brought about Brexit in the first place – and who then walked whistling away from the mess he'd created – knows better than most that Brexit has irrevocably damaged the reputation of the UK while putting rocket boosters under the credibility of the Scottish independence campaign in the eyes of European nations.

Britain is the Billy-no-mates of Europe, but Europeans know that Scotland convincingly rejected Brexit and so Scotland has many friends and allies abroad, willing us on to escape the mess and chaos created by the Little England nationalism of the Tories which has now infected the Labour party too.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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