THE SNP’s Alyn Smith has reiterated support for his party’s commitment to an independent Scotland being a full EU member following Alex Salmond’s suggestion it should consider shifting position in favour of a lasting membership of the European Free Trade Area.

Smith, a MEP, said he continued to believe full membership of the bloc was the best option in terms of an independent Scotland’s relationship with Europe.

“The Brexit injustice that Scots face the prospect of losing all our rights within the EU despite our clear vote to remain is focussing a lot of minds,” Smith said in response to the former First Minister’s intervention.

“Any discussion of options is welcome but we need to be careful not to confuse staging posts with the destination itself.

“I’m convinced, having spent years examining all our options, that full EU membership as an independent state is Scotland’s best future.

“Of course, there will be a lot of twists and turns on that road and there are other options, all of which we’ll keep in mind and explore to work out what suits Scotland’s interests best.”

In a speech to the annual Business for Scotland dinner on Thursday night Salmond said EFTA membership would guarantee that an independent Scotland will not be made “relatively poorer by full English Brexit” and he called for the vote in any new independence referendum to be on independence inside EFTA which is inside the European single market.

The former First Minister has previously suggested an independent Scotland should join EFTA as a “transition” to full EU membership but the suggestion that it would not be a temporary arrangement moves away from the long established SNP’s policy of independence in Europe.

Salmond said joining EFTA – whose members are Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein – would bring economic benefits to a newly independent Scotland by allowing free movement as well as free movement of goods, capital and services.

And he warned that said Scotland is “caught in the Brexit trap” as Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator for Brexit, will not negotiate with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

He said: “And so we have 18 months of Brexit negotiations and after that perhaps a three-year period of transition to get our ducks in a row. We have to offer something which is doable, feasible and speedily deliverable for the European connections of an independent Scotland.

“So what is necessary for us to secure from Europe? There is only one thing that is essential. There are many things which are nice to have of course, but only one thing that is essential, at least in economics terms, and that is the comparative economic advantage which comes from being part of the world’s largest single market with the many international connections such membership guarantees.

“Along with it – and indeed integral to it – comes the economic advantage of free movement of people as well as goods and capital, something which is necessary for the future prosperity of this nation.”