THE major political question that remains to be resolved in the case for independence is around the nature of the border between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

For my part I don’t wish to see a border of any note between Scotland, the rest of the UK, Ireland or the European Union.

When the UK was a member of the EU it was clear that the border would not have been an issue as long as an independent Scotland could transition into its own membership purposefully.

Now that the UK is running full tilt for the exit the nature of its border relationship with Europe and Ireland is the beginning and end of its greatest conundrum. Every side in the debate agrees that a “hard” border between the UK and Ireland and therefore the EU is not a good idea. The reasons for this are manifold and, in my view, don’t actually begin and end with trade.

The implications for the relationships over the island of Ireland are colossal. No one wants border check points that could re-ignite the Troubles. How this is handled is the single stickiest issue thrown up by Brexit and and it’s absurd that this wasn’t discussed more before the referendum.

That said, trade of course matters but is secondary to the implications for Ireland’s hard-won peace. The economic implications of destroying that peace will outweigh the economic implications of whatever border check solution is found.

But aside from the desperately serious north-south question there is no doubt the economics of securing international trade flows are causing great concern in Dublin. As they should be in London, although it is hard to make out how seriously serious questions are being deliberated upon.

Ireland is the UK’s fifth largest export market, with the United States number one with more than twice as much. The UK manages to sell to the US despite the latter’s discourtesy in declaring their independence from the UK in 1776. Nor indeed does that performance require having a trade deal with it which we are promised will be along momentarily.

Ireland’s own story is instructive also. Its exports in goods to the UK was 56% of their total in 1974. Last year it was 11%. Their imports from the UK fell from 48% to 20% in the same period.

At more than $16 billion the UK is an important market for Ireland but dwarfed by the United States at $37bn. Switzerland is their fifth biggest market and China eighth.

They have a successful and diversified export performance selling to countries they are contiguous to, thousands of miles from, part of a union with, part of an island with, not part of a union with. Why? Because people and businesses trade.

But a significant flow of Ireland’s exports travel via the UK to the rest of Europe so the risks of friction in trade are multiples of what they might at first appear.

It is better for everyone of course if that trade is allowed to move freely. Securing such free movement is not straightforward especially in a world where populist strongmen like the US President get elected by blaming the problems of the world on everyone else. This is putting the process of globalisation to an end.

The threat to global co-operation in general is probably the single biggest factor damaging the peace, prosperity and ecology of the planet.

Membership of the European Union not only secured peace in Europe, it created a platform for Ireland to become one of the most successful small economies in the world. As part of a union with 27 other independent states Europe has allowed Ireland to make a success of its independence, diversify its trade and secure a voice in a turbulent world as part of a greater whole.

In the face of Brexit, Ireland has not questioned where its future and present lie and looked back to where it came from as part of the UK. In January the spiritual leader of the Conservative Party, Nigel Farage, argued that Ireland would ultimately choose to leave the EU as well. On this as on so much he is wrong.

How this is resolved will be instructive for what Scotland’s choice will look like in determining its own future. Like Ireland do we wish to choose a broader co-operation with Europe or will we choose to follow the populist charlatans who lead us out of Europe to become the northern fringe of a poor man’s version of Trump’s America ignored, irrelevant and diminished in real time?

I have literally zero doubt that I would choose to seek re-admission to the European Union as soon as is practicably possible.

For a period of time I pondered whether a status such as Norway’s would be better. I now think not.

Re-admission will take time after any vote and after any “independence day”. But it will be a transition that is worth the effort and the wait.

Scotland needs to pick the future it wishes and to be honest with itself about the challenges, effort and transitions this will require. There is no standing still and no going back, it is about which future we now choose.

Those that argue that no matter how bad the UK gets it is always best will have their own explaining to do.

They think an unsustainable deficit that will worsen, over-dependence on trade with an economy that is crashing itself and being attached to the second worst balance of payments performance on earth are reasons to stay as we are.

Of course, these factors are at the heart of the reason to choose a different path. It is like choosing to finish your meal on board the Titanic because the food is so much worse on the lifeboats.

There will, however, be an appeal in the populist rhetoric and sabre rattling by many. Populism works in this world because its empty promises imply we don’t have to work to make a success of ourselves and that our lack of success is someone else’s fault.

Scotland must shine as an antithesis to this now and in the transitions and choices to come. We must live in truth, win in truth and persuade people with clarity about the process, opportunities and challenges.

The hollow drum of Brexit Britain and Trump populism must not be allowed to sound in our debate and in our case. The prize is peace, prosperity, public decency and a new positive role in the world as a part of a greater whole. The prize is self-reliance and taking responsibility.

For some this is what Britain once offered. That case is now gone. We must appreciate how hard this will feel for many. We must understand more, condemn less and win. And when we win we must then deliver what we said we would.

Whatever happens next, whatever choices we make there will be risks, challenges and problems to be overcome, there always are. Overcoming them and getting to the place we wish to be has to be preferable to just enduring, guessing and fearing.

Fellow columnist Pat Kane argued yesterday that he would prefer independence to be “won calm and happy rather than angry and despairing”. I couldn’t agree more. Composure is required now more than ever.