SCOTLAND has a very special place in my heart. Ever since my first trip to Edinburgh as a student, I found myself wanting to come back to Scotland over and over again, learning more about the culture, history, and food of this nation – I even started learning Gaelic on Duolingo!

So when my fiance (himself a converted Caledophile) and I had to cancel our planned wedding in Greece due to the pandemic, it only felt right that we should elope in Scotland – the only country in the UK, and one of the few in general, where you can get married anywhere at all, even in the middle of Glen Coe, like we did. It was, truly, one of the happiest days of my life, and I’ll always be grateful to Scotland for that.

Just a few months after our wedding, on April 29, 2021, I came across a Guardian article about an open letter signed by prominent cultural figures all over the continent, asking EU politicians to welcome back an independent Scotland. I was very excited. As a European who’d been left heartbroken by Brexit, I felt like I’d found my cause to fight for.

The National: Sarah De Sanctis took her Micra all across EuropeSarah De Sanctis took her Micra all across Europe

An independent Scotland back in the EU would reverse the democratic injustice of Scotland’s forced exit from the European bloc. But it would also be inspiring for all of Europe, including England, and could pull the first thread that would eventually unravel the disastrous hank of Brexit.

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So I sent an email to the campaign organisers at Europe for Scotland, and got an enthusiastic response. I’ve been volunteering with them ever since, and it’s been an eye-opening and heart-warming experience.

Europe is, indeed, full of people grieving for Brexit and the injustice of Scotland’s forced exit from the EU. We have teams of local ambassadors all across the continent from Italy and France to Poland and Portugal. These people are all here to say: “Scotland, we miss you!”

Well, if these are people who are actively volunteering, they might be an exceptionally fervent bunch, you might say – regular folk across Europe probably don’t care. You’d be mistaken. I have not only seen this strong solidarity in the environment of Europe for Scotland: I have witnessed it first-hand this summer, where as part of my admittedly crazy holiday plan I joined a trip called The Poles of Inconvenience and drove 10,000km from Rome, Italy to Tbilisi, Georgia.

The National: Message is clear from Europe to Scotland: We want you back!

On our highly inconvenient trip to the Caucasus, we stopped in Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. Including Italy, that meant seven European countries, and seven opportunities to chat to people about Scotland and its place in the EU. So I seized the chance, covered up our little Micra in Europe for Scotland stickers, and got a poster with the Euro-Scottish flag. Every time I stopped at a local highlight, I asked people to take a photo with me as part of a social media campaign.

Not once did I have to insist, or persuade. Everyone, regardless of age or nationality, was all too keen to be photographed with a perfect stranger and publicly send their love to Scotland.

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The issue was felt with particular ardour by people who had benefited first-hand from the freedom of movement guaranteed by the EU. An Italian couple I met in Timisoara (whose main square was just beautifully restored thanks to EU funds), living and working in Romania, was very sympathetic to the Scottish cause. “The Scots clearly wanted to stay in the EU, they shouldn’t have been taken out against their will without so much as an attempt at compromise”, Luca told me.

The National: Message is clear from Europe to Scotland: We want you back!

But sympathy came also from people who are not fully-fledged EU enthusiasts like myself. A French group of distinguished academics I met in Ljubljana had more than one qualm with the Union and would certainly love to see improvement in various areas, but they all agreed that simply leaving was no solution, and that Brexit had been a total disaster.

EVEN countries that are both geographically and culturally (not to mention linguistically!) much further away from the UK, such as Bulgaria, posed no challenge for me and my Euro-Scottish flag. Under the scorching sun, I met a big group of locals at Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia. “We feel very lucky to have been able to join the EU, and we hope to see Scotland back in our European family”, as Velizar put it.

In short, there is much love for Scotland in Europe. Citizens all over the continent understand the injustice of Brexit and its imposition on Scotland against its will. They think this should be redressed, as they feel Scotland must be part of the European family, because it always was and always will be. Some are ready to do more and have joined 15,000 Europeans who signed our open letter. That being said, whatever decision you make at the referendum, if you are able to hold one, will be your rightful choice. All I’m here to tell you is that Europe hasn’t forgotten you, and there’s a big welcome sign waiting for you should you want it.