THE British bulldog raised its ugly head yet again this past week, this time over Brexit and the border issue in Ireland.

From politicians and right through the media, the Leaver attitude towards the Irish Government’s attempts to protect the interests of its people from the Brexit bourach of the UK Government ranged from sneering and patronising to downright threatening.

Ukip MEP Gerard Batten described Ireland as a “tiny country that relies on the UK for its existence” which was determined to derail the Brexit process; Tory Trade secretary Liam Fox’s comments threatened the delicate negotiations further by suggesting that no solution on the border situation would be agreed until after the trade talks had started; and Kate Hoey MP, the rampant Labour Leave supporter, further fuelled discord when she seemed to suggest that the Irish would have to pay for a hard border if the UK leaves the EU with no deal! Meanwhile, in her speech to the DUP Annual Conference in Belfast this past weekend, Arlene Foster categorically refused to accept the idea of any special status for the North that differed to the rest of the UK, even though Northern Ireland voted to Remain.

And then there was The Sun’s crass and crude editorial, attacking Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, which was all part and parcel of the low-brow Leavers’ campaign to portray Ireland as deliberately hijacking progress on the UK Government’s plans to extricate themselves from the European Union. There is undoubtedly an ever-increasing usage of nasty, jingoistic language by certain sections of the Brexit brigade, built on the shaky mythology of past imperial glory and imagined superiority.

However, despite these ancient prejudices, the fact remains that trade talks with the EU cannot start until the UK and Irish Government have agreed on workable border solutions between the North and the Republic.

So far, so bad – Dublin won’t back a new stage of Brexit talks until Britain comes up with something more solid than vague assurances and a patronising “calm down dear, it’s only a negotiation” attitude, which has done nothing but pour oil on the troubled Irish Sea.

Does all this sound rather familiar? Of course it does. Scotland and Northern Ireland have a lot more in common than just voting to Remain in last year’s EU referendum. In Scotland, we should be watching these negotiations very carefully as well as monitoring the media and political reaction.

Despite the protestations from the “Red, White and Blue” Brexiteers, if the UK Government eventually has to agree to a special status for Northern Ireland there is nothing to stop them doing the same for Scotland. If Northern Ireland can stay in the single market and the customs union to prevent a hard border and economic collapse, then why can’t Scotland enjoy that set-up too?

However, if the past few months are anything to go by, the Tories will do everything in their power to stop concessions for Scotland. Thankfully, the SNP’s Michael Russell is on the case, and hasn’t missed a step since he took on the position of Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s place in Europe. His firm resolve is even more important given the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell’s woeful failure to stand up for Scottish interests.

Mundell and his Tory Government have done nothing to reassure the Scots on their place in the Union in a post-Brexit Britain. The power bonanza they promised turned out to be a mirage with Mundell reluctant to tell the truth on the most fundamental matters. The Scotland’s Place in Europe paper by the Scottish Government included some intelligent and well thought out practical proposals for mitigating the very worst of Brexit excesses on the Scottish people, but was ignored by Westminster who thought they knew better. Time and time again, Russell has asked to see UK Government research papers that predict the economic impact of Brexit on Scotland, and time and time again he is refused this courtesy. We know what they are trying to hide – the catastrophic effect of an unwanted Brexit on the economy and social life of Scotland.

Brexit will be disastrous for Ireland too. It’s not just the economic implications of a hard border due to Brexit that is worrying the Irish – a hard border between the North and the South would threaten the precious and fragile peace process, painstakingly won and easily lost. Don’t forget, the UK Government already has form on jeopardising the Good Friday Agreement when they established their unholy alliance with the DUP to stay in government after their dismal General Election result in June. In this context, the Irish must put their vital interests first – they know the UK Government will stop at nothing despite the fact that they have, in common with Ireland, a legal as well as moral obligation to protect the Good Friday Agreement and thus the peace.

Meanwhile, Russell has extended the hand of friendship to Ireland, emphasising our close cultural and historical ties and shared worries on the chaotic Brexit process. UK political leaders, with their heads firmly stuck in the sand, are totally incapable of envisioning the future. Our eyes are open and the more the Leavers try to put us in our place, the more we see them clearly for what they are. If May loses round one of the EU negotiations, it’s not going to be a happy Christmas in Brexitland.