A FORMER Scottish Government minister has argued Scottish independence should not be the end of a union with the rest of the UK, adding this should form a key part of the case going forward.

SNP MSP Emma Roddick, who has returned to the backbenches after a year-long stint as a minister in Humza Yousaf’s government, told The National she would “love” to see a cooperation agreement with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland drawn up should Scotland ever leave the UK.

She argued that driving home this point – which she claims makes “absolute sense” – could be key to convincing those who feel “iffy” about independence because of having ties to England.

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“I don’t want Scotland to be independent and then act on our own, I want us to be a voice on the world stage and promote international cooperation,” Roddick told The National.

“It would be daft not to include England, Wales, and Ireland in that. I would love to have an independent Scotland be in some sort of union or cooperation agreement with the rest of what is currently the UK.

“That makes absolute sense, but what we have now is not a union. If you look at what we had when we were in the EU, the UK had the same voice as everyone else. Scotland doesn’t have that in the UK.

“If we had that cooperation with the rest of the UK, I would be well up for a union with our closest neighbours.”

Asked if she felt this notion needed to be spoken about more to convince those on the fence about independence, she said: “Yes. As independence is up to Scotland, it would of course be up to England if they wanted to be in a union with us, but I would personally love that.

“I think we need to go back to basics on what independence means because it has become such a heightened debate.

"It’s about the lack of democracy, it’s the fact that if something affects Scotland and not England, Scotland can be outvoted in a second at Westminster and our needs are not being met.

"You see a lot of folk who are iffy about independence because they love England or they’ve got family there or they’ve worked there, and that’s great [that they feel that way about England]. I want close relationships with our neighbours."

The National: Emma Roddick represents the Highlands and Islands at Holyrood

The former equalities, migration and refugees minister admitted there is not enough support for independence to make it “unquestionable” for the UK Government to offer up referendum powers as she suggested her party were not “listening” to “people we’ve got to bring along with us”.

After Yousaf claimed in his resignation speech that independence felt “frustratingly close”, new First Minister John Swinney rejected this stressing the party had to “win more hearts and minds behind independence”.

Roddick agreed, adding that the SNP need to talk more about the democratic deficit Scotland is victim to rather than simply calling out UK Government wrongs.

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She went on: “We don’t have powers to borrow money, we don’t have full powers over social security so we can up the Scottish Child Payment at the same time as the UK reduces Universal Credit for that same person. That’s really frustrating.”

Asked if the independence case needed to centre more on these points instead of just “slagging” the UK Government, she said: “Yeah definitely. I have a lot of problems with Westminster, but it’s not just about who is in power there, it’s about what say Scotland can have and it’s very rare that even if Scotland votes Labour that that results in a UK Labour government.

“It’s that democratic deficit that’s the problem.”

On the lack of progress on independence under Yousaf – who received criticism at times for being unable to clearly articulate the Scottish Government’s strategy for it – Roddick said she sympathised with the “difficult balancing act” he had to navigate.

She added it had become clear that while many in the SNP want independence immediately, that can only happen by patiently convincing more Scots of its merits.

“We don’t have strong enough support right now for it to be unquestionable that the UK Government grants us a referendum,” Roddick said.

“I know that’s hard for people to hear and often when we’re out campaigning it feels like everyone is behind us, but that’s just not the case.

“We’ve got a party base that wants independence now – and so do I – and then the people we’ve got to bring along with us get upset because we’re just not listening to them and talking things through and making sure they vote Yes when it happens.

“It was hard for Humza to come up with a plan. The plan involves convincing people and you’re not going to convince people by saying it’s over and done with already.”