HOW will Scotland’s relations with the European Union progress after Brexit? Is there any chance of Scotland doing a separate deal that keeps us in the single market and the customs union, and if so, what would it look like?

If we leave aside the hitherto implacable opposition to such a deal by Prime Minister Theresa May and her Westminster Tory colleagues, there is just the possibility that Scotland could make separate arrangements post-Brexit. The key to such a way forward lies not very far north of Shetland in the archipelago of the Faroe Islands.

Dr Jacques Hartmann is senior lecturer in Law at Dundee University and he is acknowledged as an expert on international law and human rights.

Helpfully for Scotland, he previously worked as legal officer at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and represented Denmark at diplomatic conferences and before the International Court of Justice.

That Danish knowledge is what makes him an ardent proponent of a Faroese-style approach to Scotland’s relations with the EU after Brexit.

Though they remain part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroes are recognised as a “self-governing part” of the country but are not part of the EU, as they did not join when the Danes did in 1973.

Since 2005, when devolved powers were greatly increased, the Faroese government has negotiated several international agreements and has established two core arrangements with the EU which allows them to access the single market – a vital agreement since 42 per cent of its exports such as fish go to the EU.

The Faroese now enjoy duty-free access to the single market. In exchange, the Faroes allow duty-free access to all EU products, including industrial, fishery and agricultural products, with the exemption of dairy products and sheep meat.

The Faroes want closer links by joining the European Free Trade Association but meanwhile are happy to remain part of Denmark with some powers reserved to Copenhagen including citizenship, monetary and currency matters, foreign policy, defence, and security.

Could this arrangement work for Scotland? Hartmann wrote on the European Futures website: “The Faroes’ experience with increased internal self-governance and international legal personality seems to hold important lessons for Scotland. The progressive expansion of the Faroes’ devolved powers has enabled them to reach almost complete internal self-government, as well as a large degree of external self-government.

“The Faroes have long represented themselves in a number of international fora and negotiated international treaties on devolved matters, even before this power was enshrined in law in 2005.

“The case of the Faroes therefore shows that, in principle, neither international nor EU law prevents Scotland from following a similar path post-Brexit. The Faroes also plausibly set a positive precedent concerning the EU’s political will to enter into similar arrangements with sub-national governments.”

Hartmann acknowledges that there are obstacles in the way of this solution: “Firstly, Scotland would have to negotiate new and expanded devolved powers with Westminster. Even though the Scottish Government has already made it clear that it intends to seek powers to ‘conclude international agreements in areas of Scottish Parliament responsibility’, it remains to be seen whether or not the UK Government will be willing to play along.

“Secondly, with Brexit, Scotland will no longer be part of a union which is an EU member state. The fact that Denmark is a member is likely to have had a positive influence on the EU’s relations with the Faroes. This distinguishing feature renders the parallel between the Faroes and Scotland incomplete. Yet, as the Faroes’ experience seems to suggest: where there is a will, there is a way.”