“THE thinking at the time was that there was still the possibility there could be an independence referendum in October 2023 ... before we had the Supreme Court judgment and so on."

As Yes for EU convener Morag Williamson makes clear, this weekend’s March and Rally for Independence in the EU has been a long time in the making, with the application submitted when under the impression it could be a major event ahead of indyref2.

As Scottish independence grassroots campaigners kept up with the twists and turns of UK and Scottish politics, the event developed into a different beast.

Williamson – along with the rest of the Yes for EU team in partnership with Believe in Scotland – is incredibly busy ahead of Saturday.

She said: “Yes for EU is an affiliated organisation of Believe in Scotland – I can't actually remember who suggested that we join forces, but we did agree to join forces for this event and, well, it has developed into quite a major event really, it's fair to say, which is obviously slightly unexpected for us because we're a much smaller organisation than Believe in Scotland.”

READ MORE: Get your marching bundle for Scottish independence rallies!

Believe in Scotland has developed into an engine fuelling grassroots groups since 2019, creating and distributing materials, creating a regional committee of campaigners to steer activities, and publishing in-depth online articles, as well as two editions of the independence handbook Scotland the Brief.

With the event now set to host First Minister Humza Yousaf’s first speech at an independence rally as leader of Scotland, alongside high-profile Yes activists such as Lesley Riddoch and internationally recognised Scots actor Brian Cox, Willamson is grateful for both the group's collaboration and support online.

“It's worked quite well," Williamson said, with hopes there might be further partnerships to hold similar big events, nationally and regionally.

“It's fantastic to see all the support, you know, the masses of the social media posting, the vast majority of it positive and people getting on board with that, supporting it in that way."

As hosts of the rally Alistair Heather and Kelly Given said, there is an air that this event gives Yes a fresh perspective.

Williamson said: “We’re hoping it will actually energise and get people really motivated into campaigning again with enthusiasm.

"Lots and lots of Yes groups have been campaigning throughout these last few years but there has been a little bit of negativity recently for various reasons and I'm hoping that people will feel that we're coming out of that now."

The National:

She highlighted the enthusiasm from the volunteers, and the knowledge they are bringing to the organising to ensure a smooth event.

“The stewards that have come forward, it's great to have their experience, they're attending our briefing sessions every evening this week, giving up evenings to do online sessions, it shows real commitment," she explained.

"They want to play a part in this big event for the Yes movement.

“They want to stand up and be counted and that is obviously tremendously inspiring for us as well, in the Yes for EU team.”

Williamson started campaigning after the 2016 EU referendum, which she describes as an “absolute travesty”.

“An awful lot of people like me just felt absolutely betrayed and really, really angry about that. So, I started campaigning against Brexit from 2016 onwards with local groups, groups that were affiliated with the European movement in Scotland."

READ MORE: Call to expand Scottish independence citizenship plans

Once it became clear from the 2019 General Election that Brexit was going to happen, a core group set up Yes For EU.

Williamson explained: “We could see the desire to be in the EU was very strong among Scots, and obviously you must get independence first if you're going to be in the EU because it's just become so clear that the UK Government is never going to get back into the EU.

“I mean, I hope they do. I don't wish them ill, but look at Labour, they're basically mirroring the Conservative government and not rejecting Brexit.

“The only way to get into the EU is via independence."

The event has received backlash online for linking Scottish independence to the EU membership so when asked, Williamson said there are “several very good answers for that”.

“First of all, that's what Scots want," she argued.

"We rejected Brexit in 2016 at 62% and now it's into the seventies.

“The second thing is that it is that commitment made by the Scottish Government, both the SNP and the Greens made that commitment in the Bute House Agreement, and in their own election manifestos before the 2021 Holyrood elections.

The National:

“That commitment to EU membership is a key factor, possibly the key factor, in bringing people over to support Yes.

“A lot of people who voted No in 2014, many have come out and said they can now see just what a travesty it was that the UK has taken Scotland out of the EU, and so they come, some very reluctantly, because they're kind of emotionally attached even to being part of the United Kingdom."

Williamson also set out that the demographic with the strongest support for independence and EU membership is, of course, young people – and “it's their future”.

READ MORE: Believe in Scotland to launch group for young independence activists

“They can see there are better opportunities for them with independence and EU membership to live, to study, to work abroad, to have free movement," she said.

“It’s young people that we need to be fighting for now, it's their future."

But ultimately, whether you want Scotland to rejoin the EU after gaining independence or not, Williamson said: “It is important for people to realise that this is an event very much for independence, first and foremost.

“It's a march for independence and with independence, there will come lots of benefits.

"We'll have to work for it, it won't be easy, but one of those benefits will be joining the EU as a country in our own right."