SCOTLAND’S independence is, for me, innately linked to Scotland in the world – the whole point to independence is being a normal nation at home making our own decisions, and speaking with our own voice in the world, forming common cause with like-minded partners and friends.

All the issues facing humanity as a species are bigger than any one state, however big or small. Be it climate change, the fight against organised crime, people trafficking, money laundering, defending democracy and keeping us and our allies safe, promoting equalities, fairness and the rule of law, I have absolutely no doubt that Scotland will have to, and will want to, work with our friends.

The best and nearest organisation to do just that with is the European Union. Independence is not predicated on any subsequent international association be it the UN, Nato or the EU, but in our multilateral interconnected world I think it is incumbent upon us on the pro-independence side to be clear with the people of Scotland that active membership of the forums of the world is integral to the independence project.

We want to be independent. Not to be separate or apart, but an enthusiastic partner, a colleague, an ally, a friend. We lack the delusions of exceptionalism that we have seen trumpeted throughout the UK’s Brexit process and even now are on a daily basis blustered by a UK Government still struggling to find its place in the world. We in Scotland know who we are, where we are and what we want to do. Winnie Ewing said it first and best – stop the world, Scotland wants to get on.

READ MORE: Greens call for new ferry links from Scotland to Europe in wake of Brexit

And it is also smart politics. The European Question has moved a lot of people from No to Yes, or at least to being far more open to independence than they were in 2014. Be it our farmers, fishing folk, business people, third sector, financial sector or any other group in Scotland, the loss of EU membership is keenly felt, still a source of anger, and a major boost to the independence prospectus.

In 2014 our proposition was that we and the UK would all remain within the EU, single market and customs union – essentially, “you’ll keep what you have”. Next time around it will be “here’s what has just been taken away from you, with independence you’ll win it back” and the case for independence will be immeasurably stronger. In the wider world too, we have an advantage we did not have in 2014 – we’re not the awkward squad, we’re the pro-EU multilateral good guys. We’re the good news story the EU could really do with. I know how international attitudes to Scotland have changed since 2014 – I’ve helped them change, and (whisper it low) the UK Government has done a lot of our job for us with their arrogant blustering and delusions of exceptionalism. We want our sovereignty back, but we respect other people’s sovereignty too and want only what any other normal country has.

So it is really important that Scotland does not emulate the bluster and bluff of the UK Government. It is a great shame that some in the pro-independence movement have recently done just that with loose and ill informed chatter of fantasy halfway houses and options that are not on the table.

The SNP is clear, we want what is best for Scotland and what is best for Scotland is EU membership. No opt-outs, no outlandish demands, no bluff or bluster. We have looked at the other models that exist and they’re poor ones for us.

EEA and Efta memberships are poor options for Scotland and fall down on a number of counts.

Firstly democracy – I want the people of Scotland to win our sovereignty back to work with colleagues, not give it away. Both options would turn us into a rule taker rather than a participant, bound to implement rules we would have no say in making.

Secondly, expediency – they’re not easy halfway houses you get free with a few tokens from a box of Frosties, they are alternative destinations, intricate bodies of law and they are every bit as complex to join as the EU, but without the advantages.

​READ MORE: Alex Salmond backs Norway-style Europe relationship for independent Scotland

Thirdly – the international community is tired of delusions of exceptionalism from these islands and there’s no appetite to discuss anything other than full, normal membership. We must in Brussels and the member state capitals be full-throated in our demand for solidarity, not foot dragging and demanding special treatment. We have a lot of goodwill carefully built up – loose talk about half-in-half-out membership will squander it for nothing.

Fourthly – remember the people in Scotland we need to persuade. They’re still smarting from the loss of EU membership. It is that they want back, not some hazy blustery imitation of it. We want to accede back into the EU, a system of programmes, participation, rights and responsibilities that exists, not some other option that has yet to be negotiated. Our answer to every question on “how will an independent Scotland do X?” is “look at what works in Ireland, Denmark, (wherever), we’ll be part of that”.

We have never been closer to independence. We must maintain focus and discipline. EU membership is by far our best option, that is SNP policy and that is the vision I believe will get a lot of people over the line to supporting independence. In Europe. It is too important to gamble with, or be distracted with mirages.