IT was a dreich evening, but one that I gladly spent with folks in Stirling, Edinburgh and then Glasgow. As we were removed from the European Union last Friday night, I was really heartened that Leave A Light On had become the motif across many parts of the country.

It was what I asked the European Parliament to do last year, when it looked increasingly likely that Brexit would mean that the only way back into the EU for Scotland would be as an independent state. Indeed, the former European Council president Donald Tusk described the warmth of feeling towards Scotland across Europe, that emotionally there would be enthusiasm in Brussels towards a future independent Scotland’s wish to rejoin the EU.

Scotland was at the forefront of events in Brussels last week. Following the approval of the withdrawal agreement, MEPs rose to sing Auld Lang Syne, a truly heart-warming gesture in recognition of Scotland’s deep regret in being removed from our European family of nations. The song was sung by a large crowd on Buchanan Street when the clock passed 11pm on Friday and we had legally left the EU. There were tears, hugs and no small amount of anger.

We are now in a transition period, but make no mistake, Friday did not bring an end to the matter. The UK is in a serious constitutional crisis.

I said to numerous crowds that night that Leave A Light On can mean different things: it can mean leaving a light on for Scotland to come back to the EU, or indeed for the whole of the UK to do so. However, it has become increasingly the case to many that the only way back into the European Union is independence.

Nicola Sturgeon made an important and significant speech on Friday in Edinburgh, and I’m entirely signed up to SNP strategy. It’s frustrating to many of us that the Tories in Westminster are, for now, stonewalling us, but this tactic is as sustainable as it is democratic. It’s precisely why we need to stay positive, and continue our work in winning over those who are left to be persuaded of our cause.

The people of Scotland have a choice to make, and for many it will be a painful and even an unwelcome one. However, it’s through a situation that we have been forced into. It’s a simple fact that the version of the United Kingdom that 55% of Scots bought into in 2014 no longer exists.

In my maiden speech to the House of Commons, I said that a union can only endure where there is consent and respect. In 2016, and on a number of occasions since, Scotland has not consented to where we are now, and throughout the entire process of leaving the EU, we have had a proven lack of respect from Westminster demonstrated towards Scotland’s position.

This week, I am in Washington DC. In my role as the SNP’s shadow foreign secretary, part of my job is to build on our links overseas and to represent Scotland’s interests, as much as it is to hold the Tory Government to account over foreign policy. Already this week has been valuable in enabling me to make important connections with other representatives, such as US senators and delegates from the UN.

This is at a time when the UK Government has set the clock ticking against itself to forge trading arrangements across the globe with countries like the US. Were it not for the current transition period with the EU, the UK would have no such arrangements in place.

Complex discussions taking place in such a short space of time heightens the urgency of making Scotland’s case as a unique, ambitious nation full of potential. Many are looking on with concern at the relationship between the current residents of both 10 Downing Street and the White House, and at the mixed messages coming out of both camps at what a UK-US trade deal, agreed between the two current administrations, could involve.

Today, my SNP colleague Peter Grant MP will introduce an NHS Protection Bill to the Commons, with the specific aim of preventing any UK Government from signing up to trade agreements that could threaten the fundamental nature of our National Health Service.

The Bill would enshrine in law a final say for the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Irish and Welsh assemblies over whether future trade deals with the UK would impact on their NHS.

This was not only an SNP manifesto commitment, but also an important step in preserving one of our most precious public services. We’ll have to work cross-party to achieve it, but if the Conservatives are serious in their attempts to allay fears over the public nature of our NHS post-Trump trade deal, they won’t fight us on it.