WE must now assume that the UK will leave the European Union on January 31 and that Scotland, despite the wishes of 62% of its electorate, will be deprived of the benefits undoubtedly enjoyed from membership of that Union.

All indications suggest that Boris Johnson will formally deny Scotland the Section 30 which the First Minister has demanded, which would allow Scotland’s people to choose a future pathway better suited to their needs than the current situation where our parliament, MPs and MSPs are insulted, ignored and denied their rights to represent Scotland on both home and international fronts. Attempts at verbally stroking us with talk of “vows”, “devo-max”, “precious unions” and “equal partnerships” have been called out for the desperate measures they always were.

READ MORE: Brexit festival director promises event will unite UK

Replacing sensible and informative replies to valid questions put to the Prime Minister and his front-bench team by SNP MPs in the House of Commons with the mantra “Scotland had a referendum in 2014” and the “once in a generation” gambit belittles the level of debate within the House itself. So here we are, wondering where we turn next.

As we joined the EU as part of the UK, currently Scotland would not be considered for membership as a single unitary state, despite empathy from other EU members, and there is no doubt that Scotland will be severely disadvantaged by being taken out, not least by the loss of free trade agreements (FTAs) and the free movement of people, thus denying Scotland the influx of labour needed by business and public service institutions.

However, I wonder if there might be light at the end of the tunnel. Of course we still want our further referendum when the time is right, but in the meantime is there any way to mitigate the difficulties being heaped upon us by a spiteful and fearful regime in power in London?

READ MORE: Westminster told to match Scottish Government funding for islands

As the UK has not joined EFTA there might be a way in which Scotland could be considered for membership of that body, should that prove a desirable option. Just as a reminder, EFTA is a free trade body consisting of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. It was formed by convention in 1960 as an “intergovernmental organisation for the promotion of free trade and economic integration between its member states, within Europe and globally”.

The EFTA states now benefit from virtually the same privileged relationship among themselves as they do with the EU. They have 29 FTAs in force or awaiting ratification covering 40 partner countries worldwide (outside Europe). Each EFTA state has negotiated bilateral FTAs with the European Economic Area (EEA), which enables the extension of the EU single market to non-EU member parties (EEA has 28 EU member states plus Iceland Norway and Switzerland). In respect of Brexit, representatives from EFTA states have met with members of various committees of the Houses of Commons and Lords, as well as from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

So, how does a state qualify for membership of EFTA? Article 56.1 of the EFTA Convention regarding new member states says “any state may accede to the convention provided that the EFTA Council decides to approve its accession, on such terms and conditions as may be set out in that decision”. Article 56.2 says “The Council may negotiate an agreement between the member states and any other state, union of states or international organisation”. I am no expert on the pros and cons of EFTA membership or the specific benefits Scotland might derive, however, in light of our current position I certainly feel the prospect is worthy of consideration. I would be glad to hear more from any well-informed readers on the implications for Scotland becoming a member of EFTA.

Ann Williamson
Broughty Ferry