NEW European trade hubs will open to counter Brexit damage if the SNP win the Scottish election, The National can reveal.

The Scottish Government already has trade and investment teams in London, Paris, Berlin, Dublin and Brussels.

The SNP say more are now needed to “strengthen Scotland’s standing on the international stage” and counter “the increasingly isolationist Brexit Britain being pursued by Westminster”.

It has pinpointed two different regions where it believes Scotland can strengthen ties and boost business. These are the Baltics and the Nordic countries, where more than one centre could be established.

Jenny Gilruth, the SNP’s Europe and International Development Minister, said the move comes as Westminster’s Tory leadership “becomes increasingly insular, post-Brexit”. She stated: “Scotland is looking to build bridges with our partners and taking steps to expand our influence.

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“The Scottish Government has already established trade and investment hubs in a number of different major cities, and, if re-elected, the SNP will go further and expand our presence by locating at least one hub in one of the Nordic nations and in one of the Baltic nations.

“These hubs are vital in promoting Scottish interests, and by continuing that momentum our ambition is to boost our political, cultural and trade links with our Nordic and Baltic partners.

“In stark contrast to Scotland’s internationalist approach, Boris Johnson’s Tory government has instead been taking steps to downgrade the UK’s reputation on the world stage by refusing to grant full diplomatic status to the European Union’s ambassador to the UK.

“The choice of two futures could not be clearer – the long-term damage of Brexit under an insular Tory government, or the opportunity to secure our place in Europe, strengthen our international standing, and secure a green recovery as an independent country in a post-pandemic referendum.”

The move comes after Gilruth pledged to increase Scotland’s international aid budget by £5million to support Covid-19 recovery in Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda and Pakistan.

The Scottish Government missions currently co-locate. While some share facilities with agencies including VisitScotland and Scottish Development International, others work from British embassies.

Scandinavia has been in the Scottish Government’s sights for some time, but hopes of setting up a team there in 2020 were put on hold.

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In October, Irish parliamentarian Neale Richmond called on Scotland to open offices in every EU member state to pave the way for re-entry into the bloc, post-independence.

At the time, Constitution, Europe and External Affairs Secretary Michael Russell welcomed the idea, saying: “I’d love to be open in every capital. The Brussels office is really important for us, the German and French offices have been very important.

“We have to look north as well as east and south, and I think getting into Scandinavia would be a good thing. If we could afford it, I’d say open in every country.”

In a recent report, Edinburgh-based political analysts European Merchants said a sovereign Scotland should have a diplomatic network responsible for trade and investment across 100 nations from Algeria to Zambia and areas including trade and investment. Denmark currently has 500 staff across 92 diplomatic missions and Ireland, with a population of fewer than five million, operates 66 embassies.