IN almost exactly four months’ time, the UK will be going through probably the most significant political change that any of us have ever lived through.

Brexit will bring to an end to membership of what has become the world’s largest single market. The stakes have never been higher.

Things have come to a head over the last couple of weeks as we now have more detail on two long-awaited UK-EU agreements.

The first is the withdrawal agreement – basically the divorce terms with the EU.

The second is the ‘political declaration’ – a non binding outline on what the UK’s future relationship with the EU might be like.

We’ve now seen what they both contain, and beneath the hundreds of pages of legal text and political jargon, it’s clear that the future relationship will be very damaging to Scotland’s economic interests.

The Prime Minister has been storing up huge problems for herself by promising all things to all people – but has ended up pleasing almost nobody.

She says she will protect jobs – but threatens to take Scotland and the UK out of the Single Market, which everyone knows will cost many thousands of jobs.

She also promised the fishing industry that the UK would be out of the Common Fisheries Policy by March next year – a promise they were entitled to expect her to honour, but which she has clearly reneged on.

Only two weeks ago, all of the Scottish Tory MPs – including Scottish Secretary David Mundell – wrote to the Prime Minister warning that they would not support any deal that would keep the Scottish fishing sector locked into EU quotas.

They told Theresa May, bluntly, that: “access and quota shares cannot be included in the Future Economic Partnership”.

But the text of the fishing section of the deal with Brussels could not be clearer – it states that “within the context of the overall economic partnership” there should be a new fisheries agreement on “access to waters and quota shares”.

The Tories have sold out Scotland’s fishing industry on the way into Europe, and they are shaping up to sell them out all over again on the way out of the EU.

But of course, the Scottish economy is about much more than just fishing.

The Prime Minister’s proposed deal will drag Scotland and the rest of the UK out of the Single Market, making trade with the EU far more difficult and expensive. And let’s not forget that the European single market is eight times the size of the UK’s alone.

The deal will also include special arrangements for Northern Ireland, which Theresa May claims will prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

That’s something I support – all of us recognise the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland and we must protect the Good Friday Agreement.

But in offering a special deal for Northern Ireland, Scotland must not be put at a competitive disadvantage – again, that will hit jobs and living standards here.

But worst of all, the political declaration is what has become known as a ‘blindfold Brexit’ as it leaves everybody completely uncertain about the detail of what our long-term future relationship with the EU will look like.

That long-term uncertainty is very bad for business, very bad for investors, and very bad for ordinary people and families.

Theresa May’s strategy, now that she has got agreement from other EU leaders, is to present it as a choice between this deal and a no-deal outcome, which would be utterly catastrophic.

A choice between frying pan or fire is no choice at all – and it doesn’t have to be this way.

Even at this late stage, a better outcome could be agreed if, as seems likely, MPs vote down this deal.

Agreement on that was what I was trying to progress when I went down to Westminster last week to meet with other party leaders, including Jeremy Corbyn and the Prime Minister.

If the UK is to leave the EU, by far the least damaging option for protecting jobs and living standards is to remain in the single market and customs union.

SNP MPs will not vote for the PM's deal, but we stand ready to back alternatives, including a so-called People’s Vote, to allow the public another say on Brexit.

The last few weeks have been tumultuous – and who knows what the next few will bring – but one thought has remained with me throughout this period.

Governments are supposed to introduce policies which improve lives. But the Tories are taking us down a path which even their own official analysis shows will make people poorer – no matter what kind of Brexit there is.