THIS week’s GERS figures show that Scotland’s finances are robust and improving – with onshore revenues growing by £3 billion in the last year and the notional deficit assigned to Scotland falling faster than UK as a whole.

What these figures also show is that it’s absolutely possible to reduce the deficit at the same time as increasing public spending, and boosting our economy.

Last year, the Sustainable Growth Commission set out 50 recommendations on how our country could reach its full potential if decisions were taken in Scotland, and not at Westminster.

The Growth Commission was welcomed by experts and economists alike as a “reasonable and realistic” prospectus, and said that an independent Scotland would start out with an annual budget deficit of just under 6%, having adjusted for things like reduced defence spending and debt-servicing costs. That deficit rate would then be whittled down over subsequent years via sensible budgeting – not austerity. Austerity is not, and has never been, the answer for Scotland.

The GERS figures show that Scotland is already standing in good stead with regards to the Growth Commission’s (GC) recommendations – revenue has exceeded £60bn for the first time, our notional deficit has fallen and we’re already ahead of where the GC projected we’d be two years from now – in 2021/22.

Following the Growth Commission model, Scotland’s starting deficit would be reduced by a further 1.5% by reducing spending on reserved matters such as defence and debt. This year, the deficit fell by 1%.

So, on that trajectory, it would take less than three years to get Scotland to the Growth Commission target of 3% – something which was predicted to happen gradually over the course of 10 years.

All good news. But, the threat that remaining as part of the UK poses to our economy remains as severe as three years ago – when England and Wales voted to leave the EU. The SNP has a strong track record of supporting our economy and an ambitious vision for the future – we will continue to work daily to support Scotland’s businesses, create jobs and grow our economy.

But the robust performance of our economy has all been put at risk by the UK Government’s EU exit plans, and in particular a No-Deal Brexit, which poses a huge threat to jobs, investment and living standards.

The National:

READ MORE: GERS figures make the case for Scottish independence stronger

READ MORE: What the deficit means for Scottish independence and Europe

READ MORE: GERS report – everything you need to know about today's figures

For too long Westminster politicians have imposed damaging policies on Scotland with no democratic mandate. They think they can do what they want to Scotland and get away with it.

Brexit is simply the latest example of this. It is not the first, and certainly won’t be the last.

Currently, a Tory government which has no mandate in Scotland is charting our economic course for us. Everybody knows that the biggest threat to our economy is Brexit. Let’s not forget, the UK Government’s own analysis has indicated that Brexit will damage the UK’s economy.

Any Brexit would be devastating for Scotland – but crashing out of a market which is eight times bigger than the UK market without a deal could destroy 100,000 jobs and cost every person £2300 a year.

Over the next 25 years, the entirety of Scotland’s projected population growth is expected to come from migration. But as we head towards the precipice of a No-Deal Brexit, all of that is put in peril – and the resulting damage to our economy would be devastating.

At the crux of the matter is that as an independent country, Scotland would have the power to shape our own finances and economy. It is clear that Scotland needs to be in charge of our own tax and spending – so that we can build an economic policy based on jobs and growth and keep the proceeds of that growth in Scotland. Instead of Westminster wasting billions on unwanted Trident nuclear weapons, an independent Scotland with access to our nation’s wealth of resources can, and will, build a strong economy and a fair society.

As I’ve said, this week’s figures show Scotland’s finances to be in a strong position. However, our future will be far brighter as an independent member of the EU. Delivering prosperity, democracy and fairness with control over our own economy. Becoming an independent European country would give us the chance to make the best decisions for Scotland and unlock our full potential as a small, independent nation.