LURING companies north from south of the Border anxious to avoid the impact of Brexit will be part of the SNP’s new economic offensive in a future independence referendum campaign.

The short-term move is being coupled to a long-term strategy focusing on rapidly growing the economy to meet the performances of small independent nations such as Denmark, Ireland and New Zealand.

Growth rate in Scotland is around 1.5 per cent while that of the leading 18 small nations in the world stands at around two per cent.

“There could be short-term opportunities provided by Brexit,” said one insider in the party’s growth commission. “But the focus is very much on a longer-term and is designed to close the gap between where Scotland is now in terms of its OECD peer group – small, advanced economies – and where we could be.

“There is also the important issue of growing national prosperity. On average people in these small independent advanced nations have an income which is 20 per cent higher per person than Scots.

“We have to close both the growth gap and the wealth gap. Scotland is not completely out of step with these other small successful countries, but we could be doing a lot better.” The insider explained that other aspects were critical too in the new economic prospectus.

“We are considering what is working for these small independent nations and seeing what would successfully transfer to Scotland,” he said.

“It is about focusing on sectors of the economy where we are strong and making sure every single policy pursued boosts those sectors.”

Renewable energy, insurance services and asset management, universities and sectors where companies and researchers work together on innovative technologies have been earmarked.

“The thinking is that as a small country we don’t have to be successful at a lot of things in order to be very prosperous, we only need to be successful at a few key things. I believe we have a very upbeat and optimistic message,” he added.

Andrew Wilson, chair of the party’s growth commission, revealed some of the general themes of the strategy in a recent briefing to senior SNP members.

One senior figure who attended the briefing told The National there was a focus on attracting business worried about Brexit to move to Scotland.

“We will be getting the message out to employers based in England that you don’t need to move to Paris or Germany. We in Scotland have a talented workforce and a high quality of life index,” the insider said. “Come up north because we are planning to stay in the single market.”

Several leading banks have already signalled they will switch operations from the UK to elsewhere in the EU following the Brexit vote.

HSBC and UBS – two of Europe’s biggest banks – are each planning to relocate around 1,000 staff and Goldman Sachs is considering halving its 3,000-strong London workforce.

The source added: “The strategy is to create more jobs to get people and companies to relocate north of the Border and as such create economic conditions that will foster a pro-expansion strategy.”

Other countries have been gearing up to poach businesses thinking of leaving the UK.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron last month announced plans for seven new skyscrapers to be built in Paris as part of an attempt to woo businesses from post-Brexit London.

Daniel Mulhall, Ireland’s ambassador to the UK, told MPs last month Ireland was hoping to attract firms moving out of the UK to avoid the impact of Brexit.

“We naturally seek to avail of any upsides from this situation, such as the possibility of attracting some of the economic activity that may need to find a post-Brexit location within the European Union,” Mulhall told the Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. The SNP’s growth commission has also been addressing issues regarded as being weaker in the last referendum campaign, such as what currency an independent Scotland would use and the transfer of pensions payments arrangements.

Announcing the commission’s membership last year Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland is a wealthy country with resources and talents that many other countries can only dream about. The challenge, however, lies in closing the gap between our potential and the reality. We want to strengthen our foundations and seek to identify the very best opportunities for Scotland’s economy to flourish.”

Speculation has been growing that the First Minister is poised to call a new referendum on independence, this week suggesting autumn 2018 would be “a common-sense time” for a vote.

An SNP spokesman said: “The work of the Growth Commission is ongoing. It will make a number of recommendations on measures to boost Scotland’s economy and underpin a programme for sustainable growth.”