THE author of the SNP’s Growth Commission report has said an independent Scotland should be a full member of the European Union.

Andrew Wilson said it was “in all our interests” to have free trade and movement between Scotland and Europe.

Mr Wilson’s 354-page analysis document did not set out an explicit position on EU membership, but backed frictionless trade between the EU and the UK after Scottish independence.

The economist and former SNP MSP headed the commission set up by Nicola Sturgeon in September 2016, which studied 12 successful small countries around the world as examples to take lessons from.

It found a growth gap currently exists between Scotland as part of the UK and those of the 12 small independent nations.

If the economy of an independent Scotland matched the success of the average of these nations such as Denmark, Ireland and Finland, the average Scot would be better off by £4,100 a year, the report said.

During a television interview yesterday, Wilson was asked why he did not state a position on EU membership in the report, which was published on Friday.

He responded:”It’s not in our brief to determine what’s going to happen with Britain’s very disorderly exit from the European Union and the starting point where we find ourselves.

“So, knowing that no-one knows what’s going on, we decided to take a look at what we would require to do no matter the outcome we found ourselves in.

“All we’ve said is, it’s in all of our interests to maximise frictionless free trade and the movement of people, goods and services between us and the rest of the UK, Ireland and Europe.”

When asked during the interview, on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland, if an independent Scotland should be a full member of the European Union, he said: “I think absolutely and emphatically so, yes.”

And when asked if there should be a new independence referendum, he said: “I think we will be required to choose what’s in our best interests at a time when we’re ready really and I’m not really in a position to be able to say when.”

He added: “All of the conclusions in the report are that if we want to succeed as a country, to get the same living standards and social cohesion of the counties that we have identified, we need to be the same as the most successful countries in the world, which would mean independence.”

He went on to say: “The timing is not something I would wish to be an expert on. It is really for the Scottish Parliament to decide.

“And they are the people who are elected to do it, so the timing for me is really for our political leaders to determine”.

He added that his prospectus “sets out in some detail exactly what we would be starting with” and how “we would work purposefully” towards it goals to match the success of the 12 most successful small nations.

The report recommended an independent Scotland should follow the precedent of Ireland and keep the pound post-independence, although like Ireland not remain in a formal currency union with the UK. It added that an independent Scotland could move to a new currency when six economic tests were met.

Other key recommendations included cutting Scotland’s theoretical deficit from an “anticipated starting point” of 5.9% at the time of leaving the UK in 2021/22 to less than 3%.

The report is to be debated by the wider Yes movement, with the SNP holding a series of National Assembly meetings over the summer to hear views on its conclusions. The party has invited members of independence-supporting organisations and other political parties including the Yes-supporting Greens and Scottish Socialist Party.

It has already triggered discussion, with some believing such a prospectus would have won independence for the Yes side in 2014, and others giving a more critical appraisal.

Professor Tom Devine, Scotland’s leading historian, described the report as “intellectually convincing”. “If the process had gone on for another week [in 2014] we might have had a narrow majority in favour of Yes,” he told the Sunday Herald yesterday. “If it’s [the vote] on a knife edge this document would be much more convincing intellectually. I do think it would have made a difference.”

But Jonathan Shafi, the co-founder of the Radical Independence Campaign, said the SNP’s economic plan must remove its most “damaging” elements. He told Scotland on Sunday: “In 2014 the independence movement was galvanised around opposition to crushing Westminster austerity. That too was the theme of the successful SNP General Election campaign. The Growth Commission, despite claims to the opposite, would open the door to various forms of austerity politics. The report advocates tight fiscal discipline, reducing an independent Scotland’s prospective deficit to no more than 3% in the first five to ten years, and lower than the growth rate during the transition period. This means reducing public spending to satisfy the City of London, who an independent Scottish Finance Minister would have to answer to.”