SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the prospect of an independent Scotland offers a “beacon of hope” for those who want to remain in the EU.

As the UK prepares to leave the EU on Friday, he warned of the economic and social damage that will result from Brexit, reiterating a call for Scotland to be given a choice over its own future.

Blackford, who attended an independence march in Inverness yesterday, said: “At a time when the Tories are ready to turn off the European light in the UK, an independent Scotland provides a beacon of hope to those who want to protect their rights as EU citizens – rights which are under threat if Scotland remains part of the UK.

“People in Scotland have consistently overwhelmingly rejected Brexit at the ballot box, and the winning 80% of Scotland’s seats in 2019 General Election, the SNP has a cast-iron democratic mandate to give Scotland a choice.

The National:

“It is completely untenable and unsustainable for Boris Johnson and his Tory Government to stand in the way of the democratic will of the people of Scotland.”

He added: “Scotland has been consistently sidelined through the Brexit process, with our people, our Parliament and the Scottish Government consistently ignored by Westminster.

“It’s now crystal clear that Scotland needs the full powers of independence so Scotland can take its place alongside other independent European nations, rather than being dictated to by a Tory Government with no mandate to govern in Scotland.”

READ MORE: Scottish independence: the rise of people power in Scotland

The Government’s Brexit bill last week received royal assent after completing its passage through the House of Commons and House of Lords. It means that subject to European Parliament approval, the UK will formally leave the EU on Friday and go into a transition period scheduled to end on December 31.

During this time, it will remain in the customs union and single market, but there will be no British MEPs and the UK will be outside the EU’s political institutions.

Scotland’s Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell has written to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, to raise concerns over the views of Scotland being ignored throughout the Brexit process.

He said leaving the EU was a step which he believed “history will judge a terrible mistake”.

Russell said he did not believe the UK Government had acted in accordance with the Sewel Convention, which states Westminster will “not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament”.

He wrote: “I believe it has long been clear there was no consent decision that could have been taken by the Scottish Parliament, on any matter in the bill, at any point in the bill’s parliamentary stages, that would have affected in the slightest the terms of the legislation the UK Government was determined to pass.

READ MORE: Lord Foulkes should join us for the march in Arbroath on April 4

“I am supported in this view by the UK Government’s rejection of the modest and sensible amendments made to the bill by the House of Lords.

“I do not therefore accept that you have acted in line with the Sewel Convention, or that there is good reason to believe the UK Government would have respected the views of the Scottish Parliament on this bill, even for provisions for which you sought consent.”

Russell said the views of the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland had been “constantly ignored” by the UK Government throughout Brexit.

He pointed out the Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly had joined Holyrood in rejecting the Brexit bill.

He added: “For the first time, all three devolved legislatures have refused consent for a piece of UK legislation, consent that the UK Government sought under the rules of our constitution.

“In any effective system of government, this unprecedented stance by democratically accountable legislatures would have some impact, or at least cause the UK Government to reflect.

“In our system, however, neither is true and nothing is done.”

The National:

Russell dismissed the claim the circumstances of Brexit were “unique” and called on the UK Government to find ways to ensure that the situation could not be repeated again.

“At the very least you should be demonstrating a much greater commitment by the UK Government to effective and binding reform of the Sewel Convention from this moment on,” he added. “An unequivocal determination established in statute, to ensure it is respected and the views of the devolved administrations acted on and not ignored, is the least you should be offering.”