A LEADING German newspaper is the latest international media outlet to shine a spotlight on the growing support for Scottish independence.

Die Zeit published an analysis piece by leading Irish journalist Fintan O'Toole under the headline "Brexit: A ridiculous swagger."

O'Toole argued that the UK's pursuit of leaving the European Union would make it less significant on the international stage and may be the beginnning "of a development that will end with an English nation-state".

"The pursuit of greatness has made Britain smaller. But there is a serious risk that this reduction may become literal as well as conceptual. After all, the United Kingdom has just completed the first set of trade negotiations in the history of mankind in which a country has made its free trade zone smaller than the area enclosed by its own borders," O'Toole wrote.

The National:

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with the European Commission's chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels.

He added: "Does this point to an even greater retraction of England into itself? In May, Scotland will hold its parliamentary elections and the governing Scottish National Party (SNP) will seek a mandate to demand a second referendum on independence. It will probably get it. This does not mean that independence is inevitable. Boris Johnson will almost certainly refuse to allow a referendum. But this stand-off will only increase the sense of mutual alienation."

He continued: "It is important to remember that the English nationalism that has driven Brexit is not just anti-European. It is anti-Scottish. A year before the Brexit referendum of 2016, the Conservative Party discovered in its polling and focus groups that an extremely effective message for English voters was: If the Tories did not get a majority in the election, the SNP’s (then) leader Alex Salmond might hold the balance of power at Westminster.

"...this powerfully negative response reflected the fact that "we" (meaning the English) "hate being ruled or bossed by foreigners. French, Germans, Scots, anyone—and it looked as though we were going to be run by Alex Salmond… it is a most powerful thing when people are threatened by government by outsiders." French, Germans – Scots! In the very uncertain state of English identity (with all the angst that came to the surface a year later), the main partners in the United Kingdom could be lumped in with all the other foreigners and outsiders interfering with English freedom."

Die Zeit, which translates The Time, is published every weekend and is based in Hamburg.

Generally considered to be among the German newspapers of record, it is known for its long and extensive articles and has a politically centrist stance, and is regarded by Germans as more to the left that the Frankfurther Allgemeine Zeitung and perhaps more to the right than the Munich based Sud Deutsche Zeitung.

Die Zeit is read by an estimated 2 million people every week including political leaders, policy makers and academics. It's first edition appeared on 21 February 1946. 

It has offices in Brussels, Dresden, Frankfurt, Moscow, New York, Paris, Istanbul, Washington, DDC and Vienna. In 2018, it re-opened an office in Beijing.

The First Minister has been keen to forge closer relations with countries on the European mainland, attending a meeting of the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin in September 2019.

Die Zeit is the latest European paper to give a focus to independence and the break up of the UK post Brexit.

On Saturday, Nicola Sturgeon has made the case for Scotland joining Ireland as an independent nation in the EU in a column for the Irish Times.

The First Minister explained the only way for Scotland’s “aspirations” to be met is for Scotland to become independent and join the bloc, and set out the kind of role she wants the country to play in the EU.

The Dublin-based newspaper published the opinion column just a day after the UK left the EU, dragging out Scotland where 62% of voters cast a ballot for Remain.

In her article Sturgeon also reiterated her government's commitment to a “legal, constitutional route to becoming an independent state”.

In November, one of France's main national newspapers carried a preview of the SNP conference with a photo of Nicola Sturgeon speaking at The National's rally last year.

Under the headline "I have never been so certain of achieving independence" the article in Paris-based Le Monde showed the First Minister at the event in Glasgow.

The interest follows calls for the Scottish Government to ramp up efforts to gain greater recognition internationally for the country ahead of a future independence referendum with rejoining the EU central to the constitutional debate.

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In October the Irish TD Neale Richmond urged ministers to open offices in every European capital to prepare to rejoin the EU, while former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said they should set up its own base in Washington to win over more US support.

Le Monde underlined that the SNP "appears to be in a strong position ahead of the Holyrood elections in May" an highlighted her push to get a second vote on Scottish independence.

READ MORE: SNP Conference: Le Monde puts spotlight on Scottish independence

It said: "The SNP could win many seats in the decentralised Holyrood Parliament, which is responsible for making its own decisions about education, health and transportation. Mrs Sturgeon had promised in September to fix the terms and date of a second referendum on the independence of the British region before the poll, despite London’s refusal."

Le Monde is one of France's leading national newspapers. It tends to be more left-leaning than its main rival Le Figaro.