SCOTLAND should be given powers to step up on the world stage and a belief in Westminster’s “supremacy” on conducting international affairs must end, according to a new report.

The new analysis, which has been published by The Constitution Society, outlines how Scotland has developed a “considerable” foreign policy footprint since devolution.

While this has drawn criticism from those who believe Scotland should not have an international presence, the report argues it is normal for sub-state governments to engage in foreign policy.

READ MORE: Scotland to open two more new hubs in Europe to strengthen ties post Brexit

Earlier this month, a trip by SNP MPs Alyn Smith, Stewart McDonald and Dave Doogan to Ukraine was criticised by Tory politicians, who claimed it was “grandstanding”.

Report author Reuben Duffy (below), a research fellow at The Constitution Society, whose own views are represented in the publication, said in much of the world it was accepted that sub-state governments have a right to engage in foreign affairs in some capacity.

The National:

He told the Sunday National: “You can’t expect a place like Scotland which has a distinctive political identity to just ignore the wider world.

“What is notable in the UK is there is no real accommodation for that at a UK level – it is very tightly knit, Westminster knows best, ‘leave it to the big boys’ situation.”

However, Duffy said this was not always the case, pointing to Jack McConnell’s time as First Minister in particular as when Scotland started to grow its presence on the world stage, such as his role in welcoming world leaders at the 2005 G8 summit.

He said the development of the Scotland Malawi Partnership was a significant step – as the Scottish Government could have contributed to British programmes but chose to press ahead with its own initiative.

It was also supported by other parties including the Conservatives, Duffy noted.

Duffy said the “aversion” to Scotland being engaged in international affairs was partly down to the growing push for independence.

But he added: “I also think there is a degree of a centralised attitude which has been present throughout a lot of the United Kingdom’s history in that everything is centralised in London, and therefore only London can do these things.

“This is an attitude which is not just present in foreign affairs – we can see it across devolved areas, whenever there is policy divergences between Scotland and the UK, or Wales and the UK, or Northern Ireland and the UK.

“There is some friction there and there is not a recognition that these nations can determine their own policies in those areas.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon slams Home Office as 'Ukrainians blocked from entering UK via Paris'

Duffy argued allowing Scotland to take more of a role on the world stage would not only be welcome by the SNP, but could reduce current tensions around the Union sparked by Brexit.

He added: “If the power to conduct foreign policy is devolved to Scotland in respect of all matters devolved to it, then Scotland can – to a certain degree obviously, there are limitations – pursue to its desire its own closer relationship with the EU while remaining in the United Kingdom.

“It’s a best of both worlds scenario and by doing that the tensions between them will be released – the UK Government won’t have to give up its Brexit project and the Scottish Government gets a closer relationship with Europe, albeit it not as close as it would like.”

The report points to the example of the foreign policy engagement of five states – Bavaria, Quebec, Wallonia, Flanders, Catalonia and the Faroe Islands.

Duffy said: “If you emulate that in Scotland, that is a massive amount of devolution but it still keeps the ‘traditional’ foreign policy powers of war and peace with the central Government, which I imagine they would be the most zealous to protect.

“There is limitations due to the different nature of Scotland and the Faroe Islands, but the Faroe Islands is outside of the European Union within Denmark, which is within the EU.

“And that is a sign of cooperation between the two governments.

“That’s a good example of foreign policy leading to better relations in action when it is devolved to a sub-state government.”

He added: “The report doesn’t take a position on independence or the union.

“It doesn’t really make sense to see foreign policy continually centralised at Westminster when there are several aspects of domestic policy already devolved to Scotland.”