THE Bank of England increased the base interest rate for the first time in 10 years last week. Many homeowners will start to see a rise in their monthly mortgage payments at a time when the cost of living has already begun to go up.

The rise in interest rates risks stunting growth at a time when it is crucially needed, in the face of a hard Tory Brexit.

But what choice is there? A rise helps strengthen the weakened pound. Inflation is at its highest for decades and the Bank was compelled to act. It seems that there’s no desirable course of action here – it’s a case of looking at the least worst options for surviving Brexit.

The blame for this can be laid squarely at the feet of the Westminster Government. Brexit, from its very conception, has been an unmitigated disaster.

The campaign to leave the EU was won on the back of demonising immigrants, and it’s those who can afford it least who are paying the price of the outcome of the vote.

People with a lot of debt, who are already feeling the squeeze on their wages, will now have to pay out even more to stay afloat.

We all remember the now-infamous claim that leaving the EU would safe the UK £350 million per week. Now Brexit is projected to cost the UK £300m a week, and you can bet it won’t be Cameron, Johnson or May who will suffer.

There’s no mandate from anyone for a Tory hard Brexit, and Theresa May’s attempt to get one through a snap election was an abject failure – so why are they still pursuing this economic madness?

We will find out the direction of travel for the Conservative Government at the end of the month when Phillip Hammond presents his Autumn Budget.

There’s not a lot of room for manoeuvre. Productivity has stagnated; the cost of public sector debt will go up with the interest rate increase; and the Office for Budget Responsibility has generally predicted a period of slow growth.

Hammond is presiding over a grim future for the UK and there’s not a great deal that the Bank of England can do to reverse things.

Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz was in Scotland last week speaking about the Scottish Government’s inclusive growth programme.

He said the UK’s Government’s Brexit negotiations were heading towards disaster and he was “sympathetic” towards independence for Scotland as it would “resolve a lot of uncertainties” around Brexit. It’s certain that we can no longer afford to be saddled to an unfettered and reckless Tory Government at Westminster.

Only independence can help Scotland achieve the fairer, outward-looking nation we deserve. We need to be in the driving seat heading away from a Tory hard Brexit.

You don’t need a Nobel Prize to work that out.