No matter how we individually voted last June, 52 per cent of the UK voted to leave the European Union.

And in about 18 months’ time, on March 30, 2019, that is what we will do.

In about 12 months or thereby, the final shape of our agreement should be clear, giving European capitals and officials time to have everything in place by March.

Last month, I was in Brussels with colleagues on the Scottish Parliament’s European Committee.

We were there to meet key officials and diplomats involved in the negotiations, to acknowledge that this is a UK negotiation and a single UK-wide exit deal but also to represent the particular needs of Scotland.

We met Michel Barnier, the French diplomat who is leading the negotiations on behalf of the European Council.

I’d read much about Mr Barnier and watched him, as you will have, on TV.

There, he comes across as quite severe but the reality was more reassuring. This is a man who wants to secure a fair and comprehensive exit for the UK, however much this may be a cause of personal regret, and to ensure a healthy and forward-looking future relationship.

It was both a friendly and a frank exchange.

We also met informally and privately with others who are at the sharp end of the negotiations. These are professional diplomats, on both sides, working far harder and with real purpose.

Of course, some of the regulations of negotiation are themselves quite ridiculous.

For example, neither side can exchange paperwork on their respective positions as these would then require to be published. This has left both sides screening slides, with their opposite numbers rapidly noting down the content!

There is a real sense of regret that the UK is leaving Europe, not least because we pay in 14 per cent of the budget of the 28 countries.

As we make clear, we are not leaving Europe – we are leaving the EU.

And in a whole series of areas, including research, security and defence, education and, of course, trade, we expect to remain a close but engaged independent partner.

I mention all this to convey the reality of a negotiation under way in substance in Brussels, between partners who are determined in their resolve to arrive at a fair exit deal.

Here at home, the arguments are sadly altogether more lurid and political.

The SNP allege a ‘power grab,’ simply because discussions need to take place on where legal competencies returning from the EU should now lie, with the complication that many of them have an impact on all sides of the UK’s internal borders.

Playing party politics with all this will not do.

Standing on a soap box, as Nicola Sturgeon does, shouting at Westminster is so obviously and transparently a tactic to revive the whole independence agenda that it is risible.

We are leaving the EU in just 18 months. We need to do so in an orderly way, with everyone just as clear about the law and their position the day after we leave as they were the day before.

All politicians need to recognise that this is not politics as normal and ensure that we achieve that clarity.

Nothing else will do.