THERE is general agreement among authoritative sources that the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill 2023-24 poses a significant threat to UK constitutional stability.

Authors Alex Goodman KC, Miranda Butler and Joe Thomas said in their joint report: “The bill breaks long-standing constitutional conventions and sets up a potential conflict between the government and the courts by requiring the courts to be parties to a breach of a person’s human rights.”

Cambridge professor Mark Elliott added that the bill “effectively reverses a Supreme Court judgment, undermines the judicial function and attempts to remove from the courts jurisdiction questions about the legality of Government decisions”.

Joanna Cherry (below) has made her views clear in the National (December 8 and 17) that the Tory Rwanda Bill is nothing less than an attack on the rule of law.

The National: Joanna Cherry believes the role of the Lord Advocate should be split (Jane Barlow/PA)

Clearly – given the Court of Session’s divergent view from the Supreme Court in the matter of prorogation of parliament – this should be a live issue for Scotland, as it appears to pose a threat to the independence of the Court of Session and the prospect of the removal of our rights to resist the over-reach of governments we never vote for.

It is this threat to Scotland’s independent judiciary that provides a significant opportunity for action.

Accordingly, I respectfully suggest two things. Firstly that the current cohort of independence-minded MPs representing Scotland’s electorate give notice of withdrawal from the Treaty of Union in defence of the terms of the Article 19 of the Act of Union in the face of this latest but not exclusive assault on the Treaty – Brexit and the Internal Market Act being but two of countless examples.

READ MORE: Treaty of Union says Scotland can leave – so let’s do it

Secondly, they withdraw to Edinburgh to convene a constitutional convention to discuss the issues, refine the arguments and prepare for a homegrown referendum with the beneficial franchise of EU nationals and citizens over the age of 16 and to ratify the decision to resile the Treaty under the terms of the Claim of Right, the most recent edition of which was endorsed in the House of Commons on July 4, 2018.

It’s clear for all to see that if Stephen Noon’s latest piece of Upper House nonsense is any measure, strategy in SNP circles isn’t what it used to be. What is blindingly obvious to all of us who have no credentials in the arena of political strategy, is that support for indy is constantly outstripping support for the SNP with the very real prospect of a wipeout at the General Election as the Scottish electorate punishes the SNP for a lamentable performance under the Sturgeon regime and its successors. And goodness knows what will happen if the Crown Prosecution enables an ambush by the mainstream media on the subject of a particular motorhome.

The subsequent loss of the “short money” available from Westminster with a diminished cohort of SNP MPs will inevitably enhance the prospects of bankruptcy for the party, quite apart from the irreparable harm done to the independence cause for some considerable time to come.

So the Rwanda Bill offers a diminishing window of opportunity for the SNP to abandon the luxury of whether or not they are an abstentionist party. They need to demonstrate both national self-respect and political self-preservation in this fag-end of a parliament characterised by a revolving door of prime ministers and others whose only guiding principle is said self-preservation. They need to free themselves from a system over which they are impotent, that uses archaic Henry VIII powers, that drafts laws to overcome fundamental principles of human rights enjoyed by modern societies elsewhere in our continent.

Given the current 80% majority of Scottish MPs with an independence disposition, they have little to show for their efforts given the constant erosion of the devolution settlement, the theft of Scotland’s renewable power and now the dismantling of Grangemouth.

The National: Former SNP leadership contender Ash Regan (right) with Alba's Westminster leader Neale Hanvey during a photocall at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, after she defected from the SNP, becoming the Alba Party's first ever MSP. Picture date:

After the comprehensive defeat of Neale Hanvey’s (above) recent Scotland (Self-Determination) Bill, there can no longer be any pretence that we are something more than a northern colony of Englandshire – certainly not the often-vaunted Union of equals.

We have but a few weeks in which to seize the opportunities with which to rid ourselves of the worst period of UK Government this century before the next worst comes to power with equally few principles and an avowed distaste for Scottish independence.

Kenyon Wright’s rallying cry was: “We say yes, and we are the people.” We need a new one: “Country before party.” We really must seize the days for settling up at Westminster and stop being squeamish about it.
Iain Bruce