THE SNP are set to launch a paper defending their policy in favour of joining the EU – in a direct rebuke to arguments put forward by Alba.

Alyn Smith, the party’s EU spokesperson, and SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn will launch the document at an event in Dundee on Friday.

The paper sets out the SNP’s arguments for joining the EU as opposed to the European Free Trade Association (Efta) which is the option favoured by Alex Salmond’s Alba Party.

In it, the SNP argue that joining Efta after independence would mean Scotland would have to pay billions to the EU for access to the single market while aligning with the bloc’s rules and standards – with no ability to shape them.

Alba have previously argued joining Efta would be quicker than joining the EU and would be an interim measure to ensure smooth continued trade with the bloc while seeking membership of the European Economic Area.

Smith said those were “poor options for Scotland”.

Speaking to The National before the launch, the former MEP said: “I’m publishing this paper to explain the SNP’s existing policy of independence in Europe – in the EU. 

“It is the latest addition to our website which I maintain as a resource for folks to inform the discussion on Scotland’s future.

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“I fully believe for many Scots who were previous No voters, the prospect of independence as a route back to EU membership is a far more appealing prospect than it was. 

“They are not interested in halfway houses or second-best options, they want the restoration of full EU status, freedom of movement and all.

“There are other European options, Efta and the EEA, but they deliver nothing like the benefits of EU membership, with many significant downsides. 

“Efta and EEA countries pay into the EU’s budgets, are obliged to implement EU laws, but have no say in those laws or how those budgets are spent. They’re options, but they’re poor options for Scotland.

“Also, 72% of Scots want back into the EU, significantly more than want independence. 

“I believe a strong, ambitious independence campaign with getting back into the EU as a major part of it will be instrumental in getting people over the line for Yes.

“The SNP wants what’s best for Scotland – and that’s independence in the EU.”

Recent documents from the Scottish Government, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, showed it was expected to take eight years at most to rejoin the EU after independence.

Alba have insisted an independent Scotland could join Efta just months after leaving the Union.

Kenny MacAskill, the party's deputy leader, said: "Alyn Smith and many of his colleagues still operate as if their role is to 'Stop Brexit', as if it did not happen. But it did. 

"Even with a friendly atmosphere towards Scotland from Europe an independent Scotland would still take about five years to rejoin the EU.

"If Scotland were to vote for independence and enter into negotiations with the UK Government, it’s not what our trading policy would look like in several years' time that would matter, it’s the position in the early months of independence.

"For the cause of independence, there is a solution to that and this is [Efta], which won’t take five years to join but rather Scotland can join Efta in a matter of months and it will give us a passport into the single market as that would be a European Commission decision which would be much more rapid.

" Whether we like it or not we can’t act like Brexit didn’t happen because it has therefore we have to change the politics of how we approach that today and into the future and not stick to the same politics of 2014.”