Lines in the sand quickly become submerged when they are drawn by Unionists.

There they are, planting little Union Jacks in the ground and coming over all Captain Mainwaring with their bowler hats and umbrellas.

And here they are again picking them up and putting them somewhere else.

Indeed Boris Johnson seemed to be channelling Britain’s great Home Guard warrior when he said he’d rather be dead in a ditch than extend Brexit beyond October 31.

And then this sinewy deadline just sort of extended itself anyway.

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There were so many red lines and guarantees around the Irish backstop and customs checks that it became difficult to tell where the first ones had been.

Yesterday: Big Ben bongs; today: no more bongs. Yesterday: pro-EU; today: no EU. Yesterday: Theresa May’s deal ‘crazy’; today: hang on a minute. In the life of the UK Prime Minister, concepts and ideas have the life-span of a mayfly.

Only two things in Mr Johnson’s life can be considered permanent: his desire for power and his attachment to any artifice and contrivance that will permit him to keep it. After the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence the Better Together side saw their own lines in the sand disintegrate and then disappear.

It took less than two years for the one about EU membership to be swept away.

During that campaign Gordon Brown pushed the boundaries of truth into uncharted territory when he said that only the UK could protect Scottish pensions.

It’s just that he neglected to mention our first pension payments will probably now arrive with a telegram from the Queen. It’s all politics, isn’t it? They’re just ideas really, to be disregarded or implemented on a whim and quickly lost in the folds of an 80-plus majority. Not, though, when it comes to a second independence referendum.

This was a “once in a generation” event because Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon had said so back in 2014. Yet, this wasn’t a policy or even a commitment.

No consultation with the wider Yes movement had taken place and nor did it make it on to the Edinburgh Agreement or bother the Smith Commission.

It hadn’t even been a manifesto commitment in the 2011 Holyrood election. The Scottish people don’t appear to think it was a “once in a generation” event.

In six elections encompassing all UK legislatures they have voted overwhelmingly to endorse the party which has campaigned vigorously for a second independence referendum.

That most of the Labour leadership candidates are happy to brandish the Union Jack in the face of such a profoundly clear democratic mandate indicates that this party will never recover in Scotland.

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“Never in a lifetime” now refers to their chances of future success in Scotland.

The Prime Minister’s continuing refusal to grant a Section 30 order was only to be expected. In the dismal argot of modern political analysis Mr Johnson and Mr Cummings will have “gamed” this and might think that any sense of Scottish disaffection can be taken in their stride.

Perhaps they believe that a few adroitly-timed bribes in targeted Scottish regions will dilute nationalist sentiment.

If so, they’d better hope that Brexit begins to deliver far sooner than the 50 years estimated by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

What they might not have “gamed” is a simmering and deep-rooted sense of resentment among many who are not “nationalists”.

They see millionaire landowners and property speculators such as Alister Jack adopting the language of feudal landlords in their attitude to Scotland.

Thus, Scotland is not “permitted” to do this; Scotland is not “allowed” to do that.

Certainly, this does not of itself legally compel the Prime Minister to grant a Section 30 order but it means that his desire for the UK to come together for the common good in post-Brexit Britain will never happen.

Scotland is now more fully awake to the idea of independence or at least a second referendum than it ever was prior to 2014. Six elections and an EU referendum are proof of that.

The Prime Minister’s official rebuff this week also means that serious questions must be asked of the SNP leadership too.

No amount of pithy social media exhortations can hide this. Nicola Sturgeon has led her troops up so many hills that the Grand Old Duke of York would have expired on them a long time ago. The party should have “gamed” this process too.

Last year they poured scorn on Angus McNeill and Chris McEleny for proposing a Plan B which sought merely to use the threat of declaring independence should the 2021 Holyrood election return a pro-Yes vote. Now it appears there isn’t even a Plan A – unless you think that persistent appeals to Mr Johnson’s better nature constitutes such.

The SNP rushed headlong into the 2019 UK election when it knew what the outcome would be. Two months were wasted on this and the response was only what you would expect from a Conservative Prime Minister. It would have been wiser to exploit the political chaos enveloping Westminster in this febrile period and seek agreement for a second referendum amongst all the horse-trading.

During this time they might also have worked on a challenge through the Supreme Court, even if this was merely to establish the legislative boundaries of Holyrood.

In its armoury it has Joanna Cherry QC who currently leads the Prime Minister 1-0 in Supreme Court victories and knows what is required to win these contests. Those who dismiss the Supreme Court route also derided last year’s prorogation challenge.

You get the impression, though, that for some in the party leadership a victory achieved by Ms Cherry would be too much to stomach.

There is also a much greater sense of goodwill across the European Union towards Scotland after three years of threats and insults by Boris Johnson and his Brexit acolytes. If Scotland was to deliver a clear, unambiguous, pro-independence majority in 2021, on top of all the other SNP electoral victories, the EU might find itself thinking interesting thoughts about a self-declared independent state in these circumstances.

This requires a robust strategy though, and smart diplomacy. There is little to suggest that the current leadership has considered either. But hey, the fruits of endless devolved government ripen and the pension pots swell.