SCOTLAND is “stepping up” on the world stage, in contrast to an increasingly “insular” path being pursued by Boris Johnson, the SNP have said.

Jenny Gilruth, the SNP’s Europe and International Development Minister, said in the wake of Covid it was critical to “renew and strengthen efforts” globally.

The SNP manifesto has set out a number of policies aimed at boosting Scotland’s standing in the world and enabling it to play a “meaningful role” on key issues.

These include supporting the establishment of a Scottish Council for Global Affairs to develop “critical thinking” on international issues and the establishment of a “Peace Institute” to build on Scotland’s role in conflict resolution.

Plans also include appointing a “Wellbeing Economy Ambassador” to promote the work of an international network on this issue founded by the SNP in 2018 along with New Zealand and Iceland.

The SNP has pledged to work with local authorities across Scotland to create “Cities of Refuge”, for writers and artists fleeing violence and persecution.

And plans have also been outlined for an international fund targeted at helping women and girls in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda, particularly in terms of accessing education.

Gilruth said Scotland has a positive international reputation and it was important the country is a “good global citizen”.

She said: “The Covid pandemic has further exposed the deep inequalities that exist around the world, and we know the disproportionate impact the crisis has had on the world’s poorest and developing countries.

“It is absolutely critical that we renew and strengthen our efforts on the world stage, and I am proud of the raft of progressive policies we have published in our manifesto that set out Scotland’s place in the world.

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“In stark contrast, Boris Johnson’s Tory government is pursuing increasingly insular policies, including reneging on international treaties, cutting international aid, and adding to the UK’s nuclear weapons stockpile. Scotland is stepping up on the world stage while Westminster is stepping down.”

She added: “At this election, people in Scotland will face the choice of the long-term damage of Brexit, austerity cuts, and regressive Tory policies. 

“Or the opportunity to secure our place in Europe, strengthen our international standing, build a fairer society, and secure a green recovery as an independent country in a post-pandemic referendum.”

The Scottish Greens have said independence is the clearest path to the country playing a leading role in international efforts on peace and tackling the climate emergency.

The party’s manifesto, unveiled last week, commits to an independence referendum during the next parliamentary term.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “The Scottish Greens provided a pro-independence majority in the last parliament and we are ready to do so again.

“The UK is undemocratic and increasingly isolationist, run by a corrupt government that wants to invest in expanding its nuclear arsenal. Scotland doesn’t have to sit back and accept a Brexit race to the bottom run by an increasingly right wing Tory party.

“With the potential and talent Scotland has in innovation and renewable energy, we could be leading European efforts to tackle the climate emergency.”

He added: “The Scottish Greens want to invest in a new, outward looking nation with our own seat at the European table, driving change across the continent and restoring the rights of workers.”