IT’S funny how things change. Just a week ago, the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was the guy who was going to save the Union. He was the superhero with the superpower, he was Vetoman, and he was going to shoot across the grey Scottish skies telling us “Naw, ye cannae” if we continued to have ideas above our lowly North British station about joining the European Union in our own right. Yet here we are, just a few days into the Brexit negotiations, and already Spain has ripped several key pages out of the British Unionist Big Book of Scary Stories. While the country has confirmed that it won’t veto a Scottish application to join the EU, now it’s a UK Brexit that includes Gibraltar which faces a Spanish veto.

Spain’s announcement was a red rag to some British bull. Temper tantrum Unionists on social media and their slightly more grown up representatives in politics were outraged and left clutching at the straw that the Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis had said, at least in some English translations of his comments, that there would be no “automatic” veto of Scotland. The actual phrase he used in Spanish was “de entrada”, which means “to start with”.

What his words really meant was that Spain would treat the Scottish application just like the application of any other state. Spain will still veto Scotland. The Unionist trolls insisted, despite the fact that Spain had just said it wouldn’t.

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But it’s a tough gig being a Unionist these days: one by one the Tories have destroyed every single argument that was wielded by the Better Together campaign in 2014. The safety of the UK economy, gone, the stability of the pound, gone, job security, gone, EU membership, gone, the NHS, going. So to see the Spanish veto threat argument destroyed by someone who’s not actually a British Tory was a bit of a kick in the cojones.

Tory MEP Ian Duncan was reduced to plaintively arguing that it had never been about a Spanish veto of Scottish membership at all, despite the fact he’d been arguing just a couple of weeks previously that we faced that very threat. But at least he was arguing from some semblance of reality, even if it was a reality that was 180 degrees opposed to the reality he’d been arguing for previously. This was very unlike the LibDems’s Wullie Rennie, who had the misfortune to publish a piece in a Scottish national newspaper warning of the Spanish veto on the very day that the Spanish foreign minister confirmed that there was no such veto. There’s yer LibDems there, with their finger on the pulse of politics.

The news was presented in many Unionist outlets as a change in Spain’s position. It’s only a change in position if you have spent the last couple of years interpreting everything that comes out of Spain through the prism of “a blow for Nicola Sturgeon”. In fact it was no change at all. Spain is now merely making explicit what anyone who has been paying attention to what Spanish politicians really say has known all along. Spanish politicians have always said that the cases of Scotland and Catalonia are entirely distinct.

The Spanish veto story was always a myth, invented by Unionist politicians and gleefully repeated by Unionist journalists who failed in the very first principles of journalism. And then they wring their hands and wonder why people are losing faith in the media. There was never any prospect of a Spanish veto of Scottish membership of the EU, I said as much in the pages of this newspaper back in July 2016. It’s not Scotland that needed to fear a Spanish veto, it was any Brexit deal that involved Gibraltar.

The veto power that Spain now has over the status of Gibraltar has provoked the ire of British nationalists outside of Scotland. All weekend pundits and politicians lined up to say how unexpected it was.

The genuinely surprising thing is that they were genuinely surprised by something that anyone who had been paying attention had seen coming. The then Spanish foreign minister José Manuel Garcia-Margallo had warned of a veto over Gibraltar last year. The only thing it proves is that the British establishment and its media apologists aren’t paying attention. I’ve spent the entire week going “Told you so. Told you so. Told you. Told you. Told you so.” Which at least makes me marginally more mature than the Unionists, if no one else.

A politician who threatens war with Spain over Gibraltar is acting like a toddler who’s worried about losing a toy that they never play with anyway. In the few days since Brexit was triggered, we’ve had Theresa May taking on the powers of an absolute monarch with her Great Repeal Bill and the so-called Henry VIII powers it confers on the government. And then over the weekend we’ve had threats of war with Spain. It’s all terribly 16th century. In the 16th century Scotland was an independent state, so if that’s where the UK is heading perhaps independence supporters shouldn’t be too upset about it. We can escape to the 21st century as an independent state. The madness that has befallen the UK makes Scottish independence more necessary than ever.

The EU doesn’t do things without gaining the agreement of its member states, so it’s significant that the Gibraltar veto was enshrined in the EU’s official response to Theresa May’s Brexit letter. The truth is that the other 26 EU member countries really don’t care much one way or the other about Gibraltar.

It’s not their issue. The fact that Spain has got them to agree to make it one of the core EU demands was certainly bought at a price. I’ve got no more information about the inner workings of the EU than anyone else, but it would no surprise me if part of that price was making sure that Spain isn’t obstructionist on the question of Scottish independence.

It’s very much in the interests of the EU to ensure that the British negotiating position is as weak as possible, and now when Theresa May attempts to sell out Scotland’s fisheries, or any other Scottish asset, the EU can say that those assets may soon not be hers to negotiate away. And that’s the other great change, it’s no longer Scotland that needs to worry about threats from the EU.