I would have had to suppress pangs of regret and not a little grief if Scotland had gained her independence one September day in 2014. The cause of Scottish independence was not one that had previously featured in my top ten issues worthy of agitation, coming somewhere between liberating the Edinburgh pandas and moving the National Galleries to Glasgow. When the time came for many others like me to consider it seriously in the wake of the SNP’s landslide Holyrood election triumph in 2011, we found somehow that it just made sense. Of course there would be risks and sacrifices but who wouldn’t want to sign his own cheques and not be made to accept hand-outs?

Even if independence had been delivered though, I would still have felt that in separating from England I would be losing something that had helped to define me. Perhaps it’s like this when a couple discover mere affection and a few shared memories are no longer sufficient to sustain a committed relationship. England, after all, was not an occupying power bending us to its will and using us as cheap fodder for its wretched overseas adventures; it was always perfectly happy to use its own for such purposes. The time had simply come to part; our union having come to a natural end and a world waiting to welcome us as a fully functioning nation in our right.

This was why I made a journey down through the spine of England in early 2014 from Manchester across The Cotswolds and resting finally in London where many friends and former colleagues had chosen happily to reside. It was both a pilgrimage and a final inquiry: if we were seriously preparing to leave this country then it would be good to give it one more roll of the dice; to be assured we were doing the right thing. England and its people were, as always, welcoming: standing their round at the bar; giving directions and offering shelter. We weren’t really so different, were we?

At the end though, I concluded it was still right to leave them and I consoled myself we would still often visit each other’s homes in the future. I had, of course, attempted to find philosophical and ethical reasons for supporting a separation. The presence of a right-wing government at Westminster which had chosen to give tax breaks to their big party donors while forcing our most vulnerable people to take the hit for the corporate excess that had ruined the economy added a patina of moral justification for independence. Yet, the opposing view held that we should stay and find common cause with England’s urban poor in the endless struggle against inequality. And so when I voted Yes it was with a degree of uncertainty and sorrow.

These have all disappeared now, engulfed and swept away in the 15 hours on Thursday when England dragged us out of Europe despite our overwhelming desire to remain. And it wasn’t just about Europe and the act of political folly that led us to this place. It was also about the casual vindictiveness with which England devoured itself. And all of it to slake the unbounded ambition of a small hard-right cadre in the English Conservative Party who eyed an opportunity to use poor people’s fears and their decades-long sense of alienation to mount a putsch.

The working-class communities in the north-east and the East Midlands had been waiting a long time for this day to roar against the elite who had left them twisting in the winds of de-industrialisation, low wages, zero-hours contracts, unemployment and health inequality. During three successive Labour governments they had been made to feel like an embarrassment to the metropolitan Islington elite who thirsted for power and money to build property empires and corporate portfolios. They had been made to feel dirty, unwanted, politically incorrect and – worst of all – stupid by Blair, Mandelson, The Milibands and Balls.

Such was their sense of isolation in their own party and their own country that they were easy meat for the insidious purveyor of snake-oil, Nigel Farage. He, in turn, was wound up from behind and let go by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, a convenient arms-length stooge spreading fear and suspicion about race and immigration. The Labour figures who lined up with this unlovely lot had neither the wit nor the self-respect to acknowledge that they were being deployed as patsys for the purpose of adding decoration to stages around the country.

England, my blue remembered England, has fallen prey to a gathering of sharks. Of course, it’s yet too early to know if there will be a recession as a result of the UK leaving Europe. Other things are more certain: recession or no; Mr Johnson and Mr Gove will invent one to justify thousands of job cuts in the communities they hoodwinked into backing their tawdry little adventure. They will also use it to justify more flexibility in the job market; "flexibility" being an end to human rights in the workplace.

While Nicola Sturgeon sets about putting in place the constitutional machinery for a second referendum she ought to consider the strength of her own position. Her predecessor Alex Salmond had a political mandate to hold a referendum on Scottish independence. She now also has a moral mandate to do so. And such has been the passion and fervour of Ruth Davidson in campaigning for our continuing EU membership, the Scots Tory leader now also has a moral imperative to support Scottish independence as a means of granting Scots their democratic desire to remain in the EU. If she doesn’t then she stands accused with Mr Johnson and Mr Gove of using the EU campaign merely as a means to advance her own political career.

The great Scottish novelist and historian Allan Massie, who was an eloquent and compelling voice for No in the last independence referendum, has already provided Ms Davidson with a moral case for backing Scottish independence. He wrote this last week: “I’m Scottish, British, European. I would like to remain all three. But a Brexit Britain, the Britain of Johnson and Farage, has no attraction for me. It would be a meaner, nastier place and I would want no part of it. I have never cared for the SNP – the Scottish National Party – but then I care even less for pretty well everything about the Brexiters. So if it comes to the point – and I hope it won’t – I will be strongly tempted to vote for being Scottish and European, and goodbye to a Britain that had been rebranded as Little England.”

The Union effectively ended on Thursday. All that remains is to make it official.