IT was good on Monday and yesterday to take part in the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly, the joint Assembly set up between the Westminster and European Parliaments to oversee the operation of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) which is the main document governing UK-EU relations.

I’m the SNP representative on the forum and it was great to see so many old colleagues from Brussels and keep channels open. In principle the forum allows parliamentarians in both these islands and mainland Europe the chance to nip issues in the bud whilst also finding new ways to co-operate.

It is not perfect (with the UK having unelected Lords in its delegation and only observer status for the devolved nations) but it is far better than nothing as otherwise the relationship would be run entirely by the UK Government on one side and the EU Commission on the other.

Ideally, this forum would meet far more regularly. The EU remains the most important relationship for Scotland and the rest of the UK, and it is evolving at light speed without the UK, taking on a more muscular role in the diplomatic and security realms.

We are witnessing before our eyes the transformation of the European project from one hyper-focused on economics to being a more global influence on a broad range of issues. We need to be more engaged with these developments, not less.

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Post-Brexit, there are plenty of areas where politicians in both parliaments can work together, setting the objectives for the officials to deliver. Educational links need to be strengthened in the wake of the UK’s absence from Erasmus+ and remedying the delay in finally rejoining Horizon Europe.

Particularly for our agricultural and fisheries sectors, there is a pressing need for a UK-EU Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement, it is absurd that agreement has not yet been reached.

But why help the UK sort out its own mess with the EU? Brexit was a largely England-driven decision (with Wales narrowly voting for it too) and the result was forced upon us in Scotland and Northern Ireland without as much of a by your leave.

I would argue there are two reasons why it’s important the SNP has a voice in this forum. Firstly, it guarantees that the views of the people of the people of Scotland are articulated by parliamentarians elected by them.

That means we can highlight the challenges Brexit is causing them on a daily basis and work towards finding solutions with our EU colleagues.

The second reason though is that it helps us get closer to independence.

The National: More alignment with EU standards will make re-joining easier More alignment with EU standards will make re-joining easier

The more closely aligned the EU and the UK is on regulation, security arrangements and cultural exchanges, the less divergence between an independent Scotland once we rejoin the EU and our neighbours to the south.

After all, whatever is the status of the TCA between the UK and the EU will define the relationship of an independent Scotland in the EU and the rest of the UK.

Similarly, the more alignment we have with EU standards, the easier and faster it will be to complete the chapters of the Acquis Communautaire and therefore, the sooner we can take our place as the EU’s newest member state.

So I can say, hand on heart, that as well as promoting an independent Scotland in the EU, I want to see the UK have as close a deep and functioning relationship with the EU as possible, not just because it is the best for the UK (though it is) but because it will make our accession talks easier.

Much of my work down here in Westminster has involved this type of engagement as our Europe and EU accession spokesperson, which has included raising awareness (and receiving positive feedback) on the Scottish Government’s paper outlining how we would join the EU and the mutual benefits this brings.

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After all, Scotland in Europe means being part of a global A-Team.

It means working with other European allies to meet the common challenges we face whether it be economic, security or climate issues.

Where there are links that exist, we must continue to cultivate and strengthen them lest they wither and die.

I and my colleagues will keep banging the drum for Scotland’s independence in Europe and it is why forums such as the parliamentary assembly are important for us to be seen and heard at.