TRAVELLING north on the M6 and A74(M), motorists will eventually come across the sign at the border saying Welcome to Scotland near Gretna.

For Scots it is a reassuring sight that means home, whereas for millions of tourists it is a sign that no doubt generates excitement as a great adventure is about to begin with the wondrous delights of the nation now within reach.

But we may now have to remove that sign because it is becomingly increasingly clear that people travelling from the south are no longer welcome.

So unwelcome, in fact, that more than 5,000 people have signed a petition demanding the border is closed to all but essential travellers. It adds, helpfully, on the grounds of ‘ineptitude by the Tories’.

But another petition has also been started and one that is altogether more troubling. Jen MacNeill from the island of Colonsay is calling for the islands lockdown easing to be delayed and for businesses on the islands to be compensated as a result.

She then adds that CalMac should be used to enforce that visitor numbers are reduced which would allow more islanders to use the ferries. Visitors from Scotland would be fine but not ones from England due to coronavirus.

While I have every sympathy for the plight of islanders and the fear that exists in many communities Ms MacNeill’s argument is simply deluded and a total non-starter.

For a start, CalMac is not the Covid-19 police, but a state-owned ferry company with a sole purpose to operate lifeline services to the islands and it is a role which it carries out extremely well in often challenging conditions.

It is not a bus service which can be simply hailed by islanders any time they want to nip to the mainland.

CalMac is owned and operated on behalf of every Scottish taxpayer and without the ferries, many businesses would not survive, tourism would be non-exist and most islands would suffer catastrophic de-population to the mainland.

Maybe the answer would be to remove the service to Colonsay altogether and use it to increase capacity on a route which needs it. Ms MacNeill can then spend weeks and months more in splendid isolation free from coronavirus.

I love the islands and have visited most of them and thankfully her attitude does not represent islanders as a whole. But I won’t be visiting Colonsay any time soon.

Welcome to Scotland, where not everyone is actually welcome.