WHILE the UK government looks increasingly inward in the wake of the Brexit vote, moves by the First Minister to reinforce Scotland’s international credentials on the world stage with a tour of the United States set the right tone for our nation. Nicola Sturgeon’s visit to the US will put trade and investment top of the agenda – an essential move for a country considering its constitutional future.

Sturgeon will also use the visit to raise the issue of Scottish independence and the consequences for Scotland of Brexit. Again, these steps are in the right direction. The debate about Scottish independence needs to be heard across the world. Scotland must to be confident enough to discuss the difficult decisions that lie ahead in any quarter where informed opinion lies.

The decision to sign a deal with California on climate change is also one this paper fully supports – not only because of our commitment to environmental policies which protect both this nation and the rest of the world, but also because the move pointedly, if subtly, slaps down the Trump administration and its denial of climate science and moves to tear up environmental protections.

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It does not take a great political tactician to see Sturgeon’s visit as a well-timed attempt to position Scotland as a markedly different nation from both the Brexit-Britain being formed by Theresa May, and the America that is being forged under Trump. The message being sent is that the Scottish government has no fear or hesitation in standing up for what it believes in – whether it is independence, the environment, or women’s rights.

It is clear that the three other nations of the UK besides England are not being listened to by the Westminster government when it comes to Brexit. As such, it is not only right but essential that Scotland takes matters into its own hands, and fights its own corner with as much vigour as it can muster.

If Scotland is to become an independent nation, then we must act as a country ready to govern itself. Stepping confidently on to the world’s stage to make Scotland’s voice heard and to stand up for what we believe in as a country is not only politically savvy of the First Minister, it is also her duty as the custodian of the highest office this country has to offer.