Eighteen months ago – it seems like a long time ago now – Nicola Sturgeon launched the first of a series of papers laying out the case for Scottish independence. The first of the papers was, said Ms Sturgeon, about refreshing the SNP’s arguments. With independence, she said, Scotland too would have the levers and the autonomy to help fulfil its potential.

It’s fair to say that a lot, perhaps even everything, has changed since then – Ms Sturgeon is no longer First Minister for a start – but one by one the SNP papers have been released covering a range of subjects from the economy, democracy and the constitution, citizenship and migration. The seventh and latest of them, published on Friday, is called “An Independent Scotland in the EU” and tackles the subject that for so long seemed to drive the arguments for independence: Brexit and our relationship with Europe.

The central argument of the paper is that the UK Government’s decision to pursue a hard Brexit has led to Scotland losing out economically, socially and culturally. It also says Westminster’s approach to negotiations with the EU was characterised by friction and disregard for the views and interests of Scotland. And it concludes that if we want to regain the benefits of EU membership, independence is the only way to do it.

Wherever you stand on that conclusion, the effects of Brexit on the economy have been clear to see. Back in the spring, the Office for Budget Responsibility said it believed the British economy will be about four per cent smaller than it would have been had it remained in the EU and that the effect of Brexit was at least as bad as the one the pandemic had. We also know that the loss of free movement of people between the UK and the European Economic Area has fuelled skills and labour shortages across Britain.

As far as the SNP’s latest paper is concerned, all of this means that the case for rejoining the EU is proven. Rejoining as an independent state, it says, would mean Scotland being part of the world’s largest single market. It points out that the market is seven times the size of the UK’s so Scottish firms would be able to trade freely with more businesses and sell to more customers.

Of course, papers such as this one depend not just on what they include but also on what they omit and a significant fact that does not appear is that Scotland still conducts most of its trade within the UK. The paper also says an independent Scotland’s EU membership would not be at the expense of the relationships we would continue to have with the UK, but it does not spell out by what means such a continuation would be ensured. At some point the SNP will have to explain why the relationship between an independent Scotland and the countries that remain in the UK would not be hit by the same problems that have been seen in Northern Ireland after the UK left the EU.

Where the paper is on firmer ground is when it talks about improving international relations. In his introduction to the document, the culture minister Angus Robertson says co-operation should be at the heart of international relationships instead of confrontation and we all probably know who he’s referring to when he talks about confrontation. The now former Home Secretary Suella Braverman made a name for herself by describing the arrival of asylum seekers on the south coast as an “invasion” and that it was her “dream” to deport people to Rwanda.

The contrast between these sort of remarks and the tone the SNP has taken has always been striking. Partly this is because Scotland has for decades been seen as a welcoming country for immigrants, and although the difference in attitudes among Scots and the rest of the UK can sometimes be exaggerated, more Scots see immigration as good for the economy.

What’s more, Scotland continues to have a compelling need for immigration as its population declines. We also know that post-Brexit rules have led to a serious shortage of workers in Scotland. It has caused the Scottish Government to argue for a more liberal approach to immigration on the basis that Scotland’s needs are different from England’s.

All of this makes perfect sense for Scotland, and a compassionate (and logical) approach is certainly more likely to chime with Scots than the aggressive language used by Suella Braverman.

However, Scots who sympathise with the appeal in the SNP’s paper for better international relationships, and Scots who would like to see us back in the EU one day, may not necessarily agree with the paper’s central premise that independence is the only realistic way to achieve EU membership. It would also be reasonable for them to ask what realistic route to independence the SNP is seeking to take now that the landscape has changed so much.

Angus Robertson says in his paper that we have no choice and that there is only one route to Scotland re-joining the EU: a democratic process to decide on Scotland’s independence,. But we know that Scotland is still pretty much divided down the middle on whether he is right. Where there is agreement, however, is on some of the central ideas: free movement, and a better and more compassionate approach to migration. Most of us would say Yes to that.