BREXIT has been a disaster, and every day it continues will make it harder for us to go back. It’s time for Scotland to take a different path and rejoin Europe as an independent country. It’s a disaster that many saw coming, and one which two-thirds of Scotland voted against in the first place.

The consequences of Westminster’s historic folly are all around us. Whether it is the devastating impact it’s had on small businesses or NHS recruitment, the loss of our automatic right to travel and work across the continent, or the soaring cost of essential goods and services, Brexit has damaged everything it’s touched.

This week made it 50 years since the UK joined the European Economic Community, which would later become the European Union. It should have been a celebration.

Yet, at a time when polls are showing a clear majority of people across the UK want to re-join, this was also the week in which it became clearer than ever that Scotland’s only route back in is through independence.

Labour frontbencher Lisa Nandy used a recent interview to describe any idea of the UK re-entering the single market (which can be done without fully joining the EU, as Norway has done) as a “fantasy” that “won’t take the country forward.”

It wasn’t an accident. She didn’t misspeak. It was the latest in a long series of disappointing statements from Labour. When it comes to Brexit, Labour are a shambles. Having once led demonstrations and used every opportunity to speak against it, Sir Keir Starmer has now embraced the disaster and is vacuously promising to “make Brexit work”, whatever that means.

How can Brexit work when it is based on a series of racist mistruths and lies spread by the Tories, UKIP and right-wing media outlets?

It often feels like we are living in a constitutional version of the Emperor’s New Clothes, with Labour spokespeople and MSPs having to distort reality and pretend to see some kind of positive from Brexit when they all know it simply doesn’t exist.

In 2020, when he stood to be Labour leader, Starmer promised to “defend free movement” and provide effective opposition to the Tories. Yet, these pledges look as worthless as his broken promises to support higher income taxes for the wealthiest and renationalise key industries. Unsurprisingly, we’ve seen the same shameless U-turn from Scottish Labour.

In 2019, Anas Sarwar said that Scottish Labour must be “an unequivocally Remain party” and should “robustly challenge” Brexit at every step.

That changed last July when he told ITV that he opposed any attempts to re-join the EU. Now he’s just as committed to Brexit as Starmer is, despite representing a city, and a country, that overwhelmingly rejected it.

Things could soon get even worse thanks to the Retained EU Law Bill – also known as the Brexit Freedoms bill.

This bill, which is currently working its way through the House of Commons, is a clear and present threat to our democracy. It will take a wrecking ball to our environmental standards and hands powers currently held by the Scottish Parliament straight to Westminster.

If passed, it would remove at least 2400 pieces of EU law which we kept on the statute books here after leaving, including many of the protections and directives that we hold dear. It threatens the removal of vital protections for workers and our environment and, if enacted, could see a bonfire of the kind of social rights that far too many Tories have been gunning for over many years. It would be yet another dangerous Tory fantasy brought to life.

It would also put huge and unnecessary pressure on every democratic institution, every government department, every minister and parliamentarian across the UK at a time when we should be focusing on our recovery from the cost crisis that Westminster has inflicted. We face global challenges and should be working constructively with other nations across Europe and beyond to tackle them. That must mean a race to the top, not the bottom, on things like environmental protection.

I’ve always acknowledged that the EU isn’t perfect. The austerity inflicted on Greece was appalling, and so are the racist and inhumane anti-refugee policies that have turned the Mediterranean into a graveyard for thousands of desperate people. But Brexit was never about righting these wrongs or doing something better.

Instead, what we have seen is the empowerment of a reactionary Tory government addicted to the same kind of brutal public service cuts and which sees the introduction of racist deportation flights to Rwanda as one of its greatest achievements.

As Greens, we want to work constructively with our allies across Europe to change these terrible policies and forge a fairer and better future for people across the continent. The debate about Scottish independence is increasingly becoming a debate about our international relationships and where we see ourselves in the world.

The future on offer as part of the UK is one of permanent isolation and leaving key decisions about our economy to the most extreme elements of a Tory Party that we have rejected time and again.

If we are to build an economy and a future based on solidarity, collaboration and dignity then it cannot happen while we are anchored to a Tory government that opposes these values and a Labour opposition only too happy to drop them as soon as they become politically inconvenient.

That is why more and more people are seeing that the only realistic route back into Europe is with the powers of independence.