THE overriding narrative of Brexit has been a narrow nationalism based on misty-eyed nostalgia about a Britain that never existed.

From blue passports to bendy bananas, the call for a return to a perceived pre-EU heyday has been a thin veil over what, in truth, has been a campaign based on lies and racism.

In the last few weeks though, Brexit has shown its true face. In the latest deal, Boris Johnson’s hard-right Government downgraded commitments to a “level playing field” with the EU on environmental protections, labour rights and social standards, and were open about their reasons why.

Liz Truss, the international trade secretary who has links with the extremist US libertarian lobby, said scrapping the protections was “vital for giving us the freedom and flexibility to strike new trade deals and become more competitive”. On the same day a Cabinet source told a newspaper that the promise to maintain these protections “has to go … it would seriously restrict our ability to deregulate”.

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research concluded that Brexit will cost us each £1100 a year. This is only the financial cost of a rapid deregulated race to the bottom on the rights and protections we have enjoyed as part of the EU; the social and environmental costs will be even higher.

Scotland will become more and more horrified as the impact of this agenda begins to bite. That’s just one of the reasons why Scottish independence feels inevitable.

But it is absolutely vital that the case for independence remains positive, inclusive and forward-looking, distinct from the backward case for Brexit.

That means the case for independence should not be tied to regressive ideas like the monarchy, membership of Nato, or currency union with a UK in post-Brexit decline. Indeed, some will surely find that prospect far less appealing after watching Westminster squabble over Brexit while the pound fell.

Scotland has suffered enough under austerity and a system which puts economic growth above basic living standards.

Independence is an opportunity for us to build something new, not replay the mistakes of the past.

Instead of rejecting Europe, we have an opportunity to become a full part of the European family.

That means becoming a country that embraces local democracy, that has publicly-owned transport and energy companies, that empowers its citizens to be part of decision-making. A country that retrofits homes to keep its citizens warm and reforests its land, so that both urban and rural economies help cut emissions.

The passing of my colleague John Finnie’s bill on the equal protection of children is an example of Scotland taking progressive action to catch up with our European neighbours. The growing body of international evidence showed that the physical punishment of children is harmful to their development and is not an effective means of discipline, and Scotland had the bravery to join the vast majority of EU member states in protecting children in this way.

Some of the other things that could bring us closer to a progressive European model can and must be done now by the Scottish Government, without waiting for independence. That’s why we’ve proposed a Scottish Green New Deal. The point is that the case for independence must be rooted in a vision for the kind of country we want to create. That is what energised the debate in 2014, and this kind of positive vision was utterly absent from the Brexit referendum two years later.

So independence is far more than just making Scotland like “any normal country”; it should be a seen as a springboard to transform our economy, culture and public sector into something new, not simply an expression of our identity.

Tomorrow will see the National’s independence rally in Glasgow. It is an opportunity for us to underline the fact that the movement is far bigger than the SNP.

While independence feels inevitable to me, we still have a responsibility to convince those people who might have voted No last time, those who are still swithering, those for whom a bid for independence might feel like another source of uncertainty in an uncertain world. Those people need to see us in a positive discussion about how we can live in a fair, equal, sustainable country, and why independence will help.

That’s why the Greens won’t hide away from an election campaign, as some would like us to do, but will take a positive agenda to the doorsteps. And yes, that includes bringing a challenge to the SNP on issues from oil and gas divestment to the housing crisis, and from protecting local services to ending the blood sports that disfigure our land and degrade our ecosystems.

Our new Scotland is already being built, and the Scottish Greens are excited to be a part of it.