So, who won? At the time of writing, that’s still in the lap of the gods. But one thing’s certain: we’ll never hear the end of it.

Win or lose, BBC Network news will claim the England team has brought “a divided nation together.” Ads will weave England’s millionaire squad into grinning support for the most unlikely products. Other sporting achievements – like the astonishing Tour de France wins by Mark Cavendish – will be overshadowed. Celebratory England mugs will appear and remain on Scottish supermarket shelves and a “national holiday” will be proclaimed by a jubilant PM. Because at long last, 1966 either has a dazzling twin in 2021 – the year England beat the rest of the world to bring football home – or wiz robbed at the final hurdle.

Now, to be fair, if the true home of the Beautiful Game was on the verge of such an extraordinary moment, we would have been unable to sleep, concentrate or stop talking about it too – though I doubt Scots would automatically assume the same levels of interest in other parts of the UK.

The England team does indeed contain some excellent role models. Players are being filmed having Covid jags to encourage other young people. Harry Kane has worn a Pride armband, Marcus Rashford is still pushing his free school meals campaign and Gareth Southgate has consciously constructed a “New England” outlook – with an ethnically diverse, socially aware squad that’s ready to confound the far-right ownership of the English flag and take the knee, whatever the Home Secretary thinks of it. But after that the picture reverts to type.

England fans booed other national anthems, and landed the English FA with a fine for the laser shone at Danish goalie Kasper Schmeichel. Many England match commentators have been pitiful – audibly bored by other teams and unwilling to discuss awkward moments, like Raheem Sterling’s penalty-producing dive. At the end of the Denmark game, Sam Matterface outdid Alan Partridge for sheer crassness announcing; “After the tough 16 months we’ve had, England deserves this … just do what you want tonight.”
Chilling, when you consider Professor Steve Reicher’s grim warning that 75 per cent full stadiums and disinhibited fans could mean the Euro finals become 2021’s version of Eat Out To Help Out – “on steroids”.

But other aspects of England’s footballing adventure will impact on Scots too.
Firstly, Southgate’s “New England” team will be used by Boris Johnson to modernise and validate his right-wing project for Brexit Britain.
Admittedly, that won’t be completely straightforward.

Even if Southgate accepts the knighthood that will inevitably be offered – though pray God he resists – his team are not the usual suspects and their success has visibly empowered large parts of excluded England – partly through their footballing skills but mostly through their words, actions and unusually modest behaviour. 
So overt attempts to “weaponise” that success could easily backfire. 

Perhaps a progressive strain of English civic nationalism has indeed been born – but it’s not clear if the team’s tolerant, diverse, relaxed and unentitled outlook is shared 100% by most fans, is able to survive (probable) defeat and is powerful enough to compensate for the Brexit chaos, Covid contract cronyism, habitual Ministerial Code breaking and the hard economic times afflicting England fans in the real world.  

Above all, it’s doubtful that a glimmering moment of progressive English nationalism poses a serious threat to the cause of Scottish independence.

For one thing, the Scots (and Welsh) have our own precious and bittersweet memories of Euro 2020 as well as freshly awakened feelings of pride and hope in our own national teams. If that’s ignored over the weeks and months ahead by “network” commentators who expect all on these islands to share their own excitement about England’s Euro-finals performance, it will go down very badly here – another reminder that in sport as in life, being British is basically being English.   

Equally, the progressive, inclusive sentiments on display in the England team don’t seem to be feeding into the political domain down south. Au contraire. Just before the Denmark match Priti Patel introduced her Nationality and Borders Bill – a horrible bit of legislation that could even criminalise the RNLI for aiding refugees arriving ‘spontaneously’ in dinghies.

The mean sentiment of that Bill clashes head-on with the “unapologetically inclusive” face of the “New England” team, only three of whom would remain if players with migrant ancestry were excluded a la Patel. Yet the political popularity of the Tories’ hostile environment endures in England and contributes to their sizeable poll lead over Labour – galling when leader Sir Keir Starmer is the genuine football fan.

Southgate’s progressive squad can clearly co-exist with a regressive Tory-dominated Westminster. Indeed, once Southgate and his team are not on TV every day to own their own reality, the Euro 2020 story will be taken from them and blended with “levelling up”, Freedom Day, Global Britain, “taking back control”, a top-speed vaccine rollout and the first billionaire in space to produce a dangerously sweetened mix. 

England’s Euro 2020 performance will be sprinkled like gold-dust into every new battle of Boris Johnson’s endless Culture Wars, masking the grinding inequality, corruption, state control and relentless centralisation favoured by the “unthinking unionist” who runs Britain. English exceptionalism will succeed whether the England team wins or loses and whether progressive forces around the squad like it or not. 

Indeed, Boris is already planning the Euro 2020 dividend – a joint UK/Ireland bid for the 2030 World Cup to safeguard the union. Could that happen and would it help the Union cause?


But every “joint venture” that lets the biggest nation lord it over the rest just reinforces the dismal Anglocentric pecking order that lies at the heart of Britain. And if Southgate’s New England vibe has done nothing to boost a new kind of civic nationalism in England that manages to derail the Tories, many wavering Scots will conclude that nothing ever will. 
The case for independence relies on a centuries-long drive towards self-government – not footballing prowess or the changing shape of English politics. 

And nothing that happened last night changes that reality one iota.