The Conservatives’ biggest election majority since 1987 will be attributed to a number of factors, but it seems clear that chief among them were a desire to see the debate on the principle of Brexit concluded (even with little prospect of the issues it raises being settled for some time), antipathy to Jeremy Corbyn’s version of the Labour Party, and the appeal of Boris Johnson to some voters.

The size of the majority at least offers clarity on those points. The question of a second referendum or remaining in the EU is dead. Mr Corbyn is finished, and unless Labour moves back towards the centre, his party may be, too. And despite the fact that – like Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair – Mr Johnson is heartily loathed by many, he has shown he has the personal charisma to reach voters that it is hard to imagine any other Tory leader attracting.

Such, at any rate, is the picture across the UK as a whole. But here in Scotland, there is a marked divergence. The Conservatives may not have been annihilated – their share of the popular vote went down by 3.5 per cent, while the swing from Labour was 8.5, slightly more than the total swing to the Nationalists – but there is no way for either party to spin this result as anything other than a triumph for the SNP.

Scotland has repeated the message that was delivered in the EU referendum – as has England; and since it is the opposite one, that creates an obvious route towards serious constitutional conflict. But, precisely because Brexit remained a dominant factor in the election, it is less clear that there is an automatic mandate for a second referendum on independence.

There is, however, certainly a mandate for the SNP to continue to argue for one. The fact that it was a cornerstone not only of their campaign, but of their Unionist opponents’, makes it impossible to maintain that there is no appetite for revisiting the question. This election, for better or worse, has put paid to any notion of the UK overturning the result of the 2016 referendum, but only by reviving the prospect of re-running the one of 2014.

There are obvious practical caveats. From the SNP’s point of view, it is by no means a certainty that such a referendum would be won if it were called in the near future – something which, though the party’s rhetoric and political necessity may make it impossible to admit, must surely figure large in the leadership’s thinking. Despite the fact that 45 per cent of the popular vote and 48 out of 59 seats cannot be seen as anything other than a victory for the Nationalists, it is not a clear indication that any vote on independence would be won.

The large Tory majority across the UK as a whole also makes it easier for Mr Johnson to rebuff any demands for an immediate agreement to a second vote. But the Conservatives would be very unwise to regard that as a position which can be kept up for any length of time. They may be able to argue that “getting Brexit done” and waiting to see if an unmistakable mandate – divorced, in so far as it can be, from other issues – emerges from the Holyrood elections in 2021 is the reasonable course.

But it is not an issue that is going to disappear, and on every basis – their own political interests, constitutional stability, the fabric of the Union, and fundamental democratic consent – is one that will need to be addressed soon.

If – a tall order – Mr Johnson’s government delivers an orderly Brexit and a recovery of confidence and stability across the UK, that will in itself be a strong argument for the Unionist cause. But the Tories should be in no doubt that making that case will be a tricky task, given Scotland’s results, and that it is one to which they must devote themselves wholeheartedly, and at once, or suffer the consequences.