It marks the first time a governmental administration within the UK has published official proposals for managing Britain's secession from the European Union. While primarily concerned with protecting Scotland from the impact of a 'hard' Brexit, particularly to prevent the country leaving the single market, it will also focus on "those living elsewhere on these islands," as the SNP seeks to influence the Brexit process for the whole of the UK.
The fulfilment of the Scottish government's demands would require the repatriation of powers from the EU to Scotland, and the SNP is wary of Westminster making a "power grab" in Brexit negotiations. Should these powers not return to Scotland, a second referendum on Scotland's independence will be held.
Sturgeon said the "best" option for Scotland remains full membership of the EU as an independent member state, and must be reconsidered by voters if it becomes clear Scotland's interests "cannot be protected in any other way."
Dr. Peter Lynch, a lecturer in history and politics at Stirling University, told Sputnik the move represented an attempt to "make the best" of a situation that is "hugely problematic" for the SNP.
"From the standpoint of Scottish independence, this is a major opportunity — for many Scottish voters, staying part of the UK is contingent on staying part of the EU. Lots of groups that were strongly opposed to independence, such as big business, also strongly support remaining in the EU, and their positions may shift if the UK gets a bad deal out of negotiations. However, Brexit had created huge problems for the SNP. They remain committed to a currency union with the rest of the UK for instance, which very likely isn't sustainable in the event of a 'hard' Brexit. There are also serious question marks over whether an independent Scotland would be allowed to be part of the EU," Dr. Lynch told Sputnik.
The news follows suggestions in November that Scotland would likely seek access membership of the European Economic Area to maintain its ties with the European Union after Brexit. Earlier in December, the European Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said the UK leaving the EU would be a "disaster," with serious problems created by the high levels of support for staying among Scottish and Northern Irish voters.