THE most extraordinary thing about this whole Brexit process is that the UK Government has managed to achieve so little, but make a mess of so much.

Unfortunately, one thing the Tories are on course to achieve is an unwelcome end to freedom of movement for Scots in the EU.

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Our rights to study in Spain, or retire in France, or travel to Italy without paying for a visa will all abruptly end, despite the fact that Scotland overwhelmingly voted against Brexit.

Brexit, and the Tories’ hostile immigration policies, represent nothing more than acts of vandalism on Scots living in the EU and European nationals who have made Scotland their home.

These individuals – some 223,000 in Scotland – have been living in our country for years, contributing to our economy, and to the social fabric of our country.

They are our friends, neighbours, colleagues, fellow students, and our family members.

The Westminster Government’s ideological opposition to free movement not only makes no economic sense, it goes against our moral principles of being an open, inclusive nation.

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In contrast to that, the Sustainable Growth Commission – a report which sets out recommendations for Scotland’s future success as an independent country – is explicit that migration is good for Scotland.

It recommends that growing our population with actively pro-migration policies and attracting skilled migrants are essential for Scotland.

Growing our country’s population will play a key part in growing the economy – allowing us to compete with other successful small, independent countries.

It is unequivocal: Scotland’s potential will continue to be restricted and the potential of our nation will be constrained without independence.

The Growth Commission has kick-started a serious and welcome debate over Scotland’s future and our ability to flourish as an outward-looking nation – instead of a nation restrained by its isolationist, inward-looking neighbours.

With independence, we can remain in the European Union – a market of 500 million people – and we can thrive in a real partnership of equals with the rest of the UK, and the EU.

If you judge success by standards of living and levels of equality – and we should – then the most successful countries in the world are our small, independent neighbours. We want to join them.

Our small European neighbours are some of the happiest, healthiest, wealthiest, and fairest countries in the world, and Scotland is well-placed to join them.

However, the challenge of how to close the gap between Scotland’s potential and Westminster reality remains.

The Growth Commission will play a big part in the debate on Scotland’s future; contrasting the clear opportunities of independence with the chaos of Brexit, and persuading the people of Scotland that independence offers the best pathway to a more prosperous and sustainable future.

It is vital that we have a platform that can win on. Being optimistic about our opportunities, candid about future challenges and an increased level of grassroots activity in communities up and down the country can help us change the minds of those who voted No four years ago.

After years of despairing over Brexit – it’s time for a new conversation about our future, and the potential of Scotland as an independent, inclusive, outward-looking country.

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Scotland can have a brighter, better future. And a better Scotland, in a better Europe, can influence the creation of a better world.

With independence, we can be one of the most talent-friendly countries in the world.

We can match those other independent nations, creating more jobs, raising living standards, and providing a better future for everyone who lives here.

It’s more important now than ever that we send the message: Scotland is open to the rest of the world.

Kirsty Blackman is the SNP’s Deputy Leader at Westminster.