THE Scottish Government should close its office inside the British Embassy in Washington DC and open its own standalone centre in the US capital as part of wider diplomacy work to win over international support for independence and a new referendum.

Kenny MacAskill, the East Lothian MP, made the intervention as he urged the Edinburgh administration to ramp up diplomatic efforts urgently to get global public opinion behind Scotland’s right to choose its own constitutional future.

The former Labour/LibDem coalition executive opened an office in 2001 inside the UK’s Washington embassy primarily to promote Scottish exports and trade, but MacAskill believes with the Scottish and UK Governments at odds over independence and Brexit it would be better to work outside the UK institution in America.

Asked about the Scottish Government’s office in Washington being inside the British Embassy, MacAskill said: “They should be breaking out. We are promoting a different line from the UK Government.”

The former Scottish Justice Secretary has also called for Scottish ministers to extend its diplomatic influence by following the example of Quebec which has established a “délégation du Québec dans le monde” a set of consulates in major cities around the world.

The Quebec Government has a network of around 30 offices in 18 countries consisting of eight general delegations, five delegations, thirteen government bureaux, five trade branches, and two areas of representation in multilateral affairs.

Cities where the bases are located include Brussels, Dakar, London, Mexico City, Munich, New York City, Paris and Tokyo.The Canadian provence also has offices in Barcelona, Beijing,Hong Kong, Mumbai, São Paulo, Shanghai, Stockholm, and Washington.

Quebec, like other Canadian provinces, also maintains representatives in some Canadian embassies and consulates general.

The Scottish Government has a number of offices in the US and Europe, including bases in Dublin, Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Ottawa and Beijing.

MacAskill told The National moves by Scottish external affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop to increase overseas representation were welcome, but should be speeded up.

“Quebec already has outposts abroad as we have with SDI (Scottish Development International). We need more and need them beefed up. Fiona Hyslop is doing that but it should be done quicker and faster and also ensure that the Scottish Government political position is narrated and promoted not just trade.”

He added: “Scottish Government representation abroad needs ramped up and the proposals by Fiona Hyslop are welcome. They are necessary anyway irrespective of the UK position on a second referendum. They’re needed to represent the state in all its interests and that will include actions post any refusal.”

MacAskill’s comments come ahead of the SNP conference and after his fellow SNP MP Pete Wishart said Holyrood could “grind down” the UK Government with disputes. Wishart said Scotland should “turn up the heat” in terms of UK relations and “build up international capacity”.

MacAskill added: “As for actions in Westminster then why wait? We’ve had EVEL (English votes for English laws), then Brexit and now IMB (the internal market bill). How many more insults to Scotland or attacks upon the interests of our people do we require to take?

“Even the Speaker has shown more concern with his rebuttal of Johnson’s derogatory use of Scottish Nationalist. It was the 2019 election withy a Tory majority that changed everything and its now not post Holyrood 2021 that such steps should be getting taken. Why wait? “

A Scottish Government spokesman said it kept the location of its overseas offices under review.