NICOLA Sturgeon has said a new report on an independent Scotland’s economic prospects offers an alternative to the “despair of Brexit”.

The First Minister made the comments after receiving the long- awaited findings of her party’s economic Growth Commission.

She has already said the 354-page long report, to be published on Friday, will “restart the debate” on Scottish independence.

In 2016, the SNP tasked former MSP Andrew Wilson with looking at economic policy options for an independent Scotland back. His report will argue that, overall, the economies of small countries perform better than those of larger nations such as the UK.

Wilson hailed the report as being the “most substantial work on Scotland’s economic future that has ever been undertaken”.

The First Minister said while Scotland’s economy already has “strong foundations”, work was needed to enable it to match the performance of successful independent nations of a comparable size.

She said: “At a time when economic thinking and debate is heavily focused on how we limit the damaging impacts of Brexit on Scotland, this report provides an opportunity to step back, to look at Scotland’s economic future with optimism and to focus on how we seize our opportunities and achieve our full potential as a nation.

“It is not a report about the timing of a referendum. Rather, it focuses on the ‘why’ of independence and how we can use the powers it will deliver to build a stronger economy and a fairer society. In so doing, it heralds the start of a debate based on hope and ambition about the future of the country, rather than on the despair of Brexit.”

The report, entitled Scotland – The New Case for Optimism: A Strategy for Inter-Generational Economic Renaissance, is split into three sections, looking at opportunities for economic growth, public finances, and the issue of what currency an independent Scotland could use

The SNP will convene a series of National Assembly meetings over the summer to discuss its findings, ahead of the party’s annual conference in October.

Each National Assembly will consider a section and will be chaired by the new depute leader. The election for the post is ongoing. Candidates are Economy Secretary Keith Brown, Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny and activist Julie Hepburn.

Wilson said: “There is much cause for optimism in Scotland’s position and it is my sincere hope the report generates serious and informed debate, not only in terms of future policy for the SNP, but among everyone with a stake in the success of our country.”

He added: “Particular thanks must go to those who have lent their time, intellect and patience over the past 18 months. It has been a real privilege to chair such an outstanding group, focusing such talented minds on such a challenging topic.

“Scotland – The New Case for Optimism sets out an ambitious but achievable prospectus, and its publication will mark the beginning of fresh debate on Scotland’s economic future.”

The National has reported previously on some of the report’s findings. Under consideration is a simplified income tax system – similar to Denmark’s –and plans to close avoidance loopholes. There are also Scottish pound proposals and immigration plans, including attracting wealthy investors.