THE Alba Party's plan to re-enter the EU will involve seeking European Free Trade Association (EFTA) membership, Kenny MacAskill has hinted.

The former justice secretary, who announced he was leaving the SNP to join Alex Salmond's new party earlier this week, said there would be a shift away from Sturgeon’s EU re-entry goal. This would be replaced with a Norway-style trade pact with Brussels, which is as close as a country can get to the European Union without actually being a member.

READ MORE: Alba Party publish final list of candidates for Holyrood elections

“We are strategically positioned now to seek EFTA, European Economic Area (EEA) membership,” MacAskill said.

He also said Alba would allow for “an eventual referendum on an EU return in the future”.

Alba's potential plan would see an independent Scotland part of the EEA and the EFTA which gives it full access to the EU single market, guaranteeing very limited restrictions to trade with the EU. In return, it would be similar to Norway in that it makes substantial contributions to the EU budget and has to follow many EU rules and laws, but it has no say in how those rules are formed.

The SNP have a different strategy as, like Alba, they want an an independent Scotland to stay in the single market but they are critical of EEA membership.

In a document called Scotland's Place in Europe, they say: "EEA membership does not preclude co-operation with EU Member States across a number of issues we regard as vital to Scotland's economic and social interests."

READ MORE: MP Kenny MacAskill quits SNP to join Alex Salmond's Alba Party

The SNP also say it is crucial for an independent Scotland to remain in the customs union, which would not be the case in the Norway-style plan suggested by MacAskill.

Salmond told the Press and Journal Alba will make announcements on EU policy in the coming weeks. Whatever the position, Salmond said Scotland is "a European nation".

MacAskill's plan was criticised by Dr Kirsty Hughes, the founder of the Scottish Centre on European Relations, who said it would give an independent Scotland "no seat at the table".

She added: "If Alba is really taking a policy position of joining European Economic Area/EEA not EU then that is quite a distinction to SNP. EEA is not a transition to the EU, it's an alternative – and one that would give independent Scotland no seat at the table & put up borders to both rest of UK and EU."

SNP MP Stewart McDonald said: "Monkey see, monkey do."

Kenny Farquharson, a senior journalist at The Times, said: "Big moment this, and has been coming for a while. Anti-EU Scottish nationalism may be about to find its voice."

Scottish Labour candidate Katherine Sangster said: "Interesting policy shift from Kenny MacAskill it may come as a surprise to the voters in East Lothian who voted for him and the SNP on a Stop Brexit platform."

Salmond’s new party will be standing on the list only and hopes to achieve a “supermajority” for Scottish independence.

Last night the party announced it had met it aim of standing four candidates on every list, with 18 female and 14 male candidates.

“This is a thrilling list with a depth of talent, diversity and experience which I am proud to lead into the election,” Salmond commented.