AN independent Scotland in Europe will be good for the people of Scotland – and the rest of the UK too.

I had the privilege of speaking at last weekend’s Yes For EU rally in Edinburgh, where it was clear to see that the EU question, as well as that of independence, remains one of the key fault lines of Scottish constitutional politics.

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain, and that support has only increased as consecutive Conservative governments have made an absolute mess trying to square the Brexit circle.

I fundamentally believe that our support for an independent Scotland in the European Union is going to be one of the big factors for people when it comes to supporting independence, especially when it means getting back all that we have lost.

After all, the Brexit Bonanza is the big lie. It is the grand deceit of an out-of-touch political elite backed by a right-wing media frenzy which was opposed to the European project from the start.

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All the economic and political problems that we are seeing in the UK right now can be traced back to the decision to leave. Peace in Northern Ireland under threat? Brexit. Skyrocketing inflation and cost of living? Brexit. Liz Truss? No way she would have come close to being PM without Brexit.

Of course, Covid and the war in Ukraine have played their part, but every country worldwide had to deal with these to one extent or another – only the UK inflicted Brexit on itself for good measure.

In 2016, the UK economy was 90% of Germany’s, now it is 70%. This is not because Germany has been roaring ahead – it is because the UK has fallen back, making us all poorer and independence in Europe more urgent.

Brexit has taken away our European rights. It has taken away the next generation’s future and deprived the older generation of the stability needed to enjoy their old age. And whether you’re working as a builder or a trader, in the NHS or financial services, Brexit has made all of us poorer.

Yet the UK parties – even the LibDems – have all swallowed the Big Lie, so feart are they of facing down the basic prejudice that spawned it. They claim they can make Brexit “work” – much in the same way that a car that’s fallen off a cliff into the North Sea can somehow start working again after being smashed to pieces.

There’s no point in sticking to the delusion that Brexit might work – it can only ever be a poorer, smaller, meaner outcome.

In Scotland, we have successive democratic mandates for change (unlike the current PM and his predecessor). The people of Scotland are calling for a referendum to resolve the crisis we face, and we intend to deliver on that call.

It is not independence for independence’s sake, though. Flag-waving nationalism is not who I am nor what many people in Scotland are. What we are, though, is about delivering for the people of Scotland, wherever they come from. One of the things I’m most proud of is that we have made residence the criteria for voting rights in Scotland because if you’re here, you’re one of us.

Our internationalism is something that the EU gets and why 72% of Scotland backs EU membership. This is up even from the definitive 62% who backed remain in 2016. It’s why, if we’re serious about regaining our independence, we must make re-joining the EU at the heart of our argument.

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The SNP’s vision for Scotland is clear and energising. With independence, we will be able to re-join the community of nations in the EU. Re-joining the EU will put rocket boosters on a Scottish economy hobbled by the UK and Brexit. And for our young people, the freedom to live, study, and work in the EU will give them opportunities Brexit Britain could only dream of.

It will also be a success for progressives across these islands. I lived and worked in England for many years and was genuinely heartbroken when the charlatans sold our friends down south the lie of Brexit sunlit lands. The success of an independent Scotland as the newest EU member will show our friends in England that Brexit is not set in stone and that there is an alternative to the Brexit dogma.

Independence in Europe is a positive vision. It is a vision with merit and one which will win us the referendum. Together, let’s build that better community with our European friends and get Scotland back to where we belong – in the heart of Europe. Yes For EU are a great bunch of folks. If you want to join them, find them online and get in touch. There’s plenty to be done.