Scotland needs to have a seat at the top table in Europe – now more than ever before.
That is the one overwhelming conclusion from David Cameron’s decision to pull the rug from under his talks with other European Union leaders in the early hours of Friday morning in Brussels.
The SNP Government has always believed that Scotland’s interests can be properly served only by having our own voice in Europe. We literally cannot afford to have the Tories speaking for Scotland in Europe.
Scotland’s fishermen and farmers do not need to be told how important it is that they have a government willing and able to fight their corner when their livelihoods are being discussed.
Scotland is already locked out of the room when it comes to having our own voice at those talks.
Mr Cameron’s blundering bid to appease his own backbenchers means that the UK now risks not even being in the building.
I have just returned from a week-long visit to China, where I was helping to promote some of the great Scottish success stories like our whisky industry and our food and drink sector in the world’s second biggest economy.
That is the kind of work at home and abroad myself and other Scottish Government ministers do all the time to maximise our chances of sustained economic recovery – and to make sure that, while we may not yet be independent, Scottish business is properly promoted internationally.
We have not put in all that good work to promote Scottish jobs and investment just to see it undone at a stroke on the whim of a Tory Prime Minister with no mandate in Scotland - who is seeking only to placate his own Little Englander backbenches.
I have written to the Prime Minister with a series of key questions on how he came to his veto decision, and why he did not consult with Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland – and have also asked for an urgent meeting with all the devolved administrations so that the full implications can be spelled out.
Whether it is farming, fishing, financial services or any number of other vital sectors of our economy, it is clear that David Cameron’s actions risk weakening the prospects of long-term economic recovery.
Scotland’s exports to the EU are worth around £9.6 billion a year to our economy.
Having our own seat at the top table in Europe as an independent nation means that Scotland will be an equal partner, able to pursue our own vital national interests.
The choice for Scotland is Tory isolation in the EU – or Scottish independence and a real voice in Europe.