In 10 days’ time people will go to the polls for the UK general election.

Today marks the eight anniversary of another crucial electoral event – the Brexit referendum result.

In Scotland the result was clear: an overwhelming majority for remain. There was also a majority for remain in Northern Ireland although both England and Wales voted narrowly to leave.

But the response from Westminster was equally clear. It said as much about the UK itself as it did about the UK’s relationship with Europe.

READ MORE: General election 2024 LIVE: Sunak heads to Edinburgh

It buried the idea of the UK as an equal partnership of nations because despite the different votes in different parts of the UK, Brexit was imposed anyway and in its hardest form – taking the UK out of the Single Market and Customs Union as well as the EU itself.   

Both Labour and the Tories say they are focussed on the economy. But no party can say a stronger economy is its top priority while at the same time committing to staying out of the EU. To do so flies in the face of the clear evidence that Brexit has been a serious drag on growth.

It’s high time therefore to talk about Brexit in this election – because it goes to the heart of people’s top concerns: the NHS, the cost of living and the resilience of the economy.

It has been a major contributor to food prices going up and it’s wiped billions of pounds from the economy compared with EU membership. Less money in our economy means less tax revenue that could have been spent on the health service.

The SNP is offering a different future – we want Scotland back in the EU as soon as possible and we want the UK to have the closest possible relationship with Europe – that’s in all our interests.

Even before Brexit, the UK economy was displaying alarming weaknesses: low productivity, which is the key driver of living standards, low growth, high inequality and high levels of poverty.

Nothing that has been said by the Westminster parties in this campaign suggests that dismal trend is going to change.  

In fact, they are doubling down on the failed Brexit-based UK economic model that is taking Scotland in the wrong direction.

But that of course demands an alternative: a plan for a better future for Scotland so that we can raise living standards and build a more resilient, fairer economy.

The eminent Irish economic historian, Professor Kevin O’Rourke has spelled out two crucial underpinning factors responsible for Ireland’s economic take off - the policy flexibility that came with independence, and membership of the EU.

It is that golden combination that I believe is the key to a better future for Scotland.

There would be many economic benefits from being back inside the EU, crucially for the first time as a member state in our own right.

Here are just five: firstly, Scottish businesses would be inside the huge European Single Market, which by population is seven times the size of the UK.

Secondly, we would once again enjoy the benefits of freedom of movement across Europe. That means Scots would be able to live, work and study freely in 27 other European countries.

It would also mean Scottish businesses having access to a huge talent pool, and we know continuing inward migration is essential for our future population growth.

Thirdly, as an EU member state, we would be a major contributor to the EU’s Green Industrial Plan, which has the potential to support the rapid development of our green sectors.

Fourthly for Scotland’s workers we would enthusiastically follow EU plans to expand collective bargaining and improve working conditions.

And fifthly for our entrepreneurs we are already well on the way to building one of the finest state-funded systems in Europe dedicated to the creation of high growth businesses.

With EU and Single Market membership the opportunities to grow would be that much greater.

READ MORE: Swinney: Brexit exposed 'myth of union of equals'

The Scottish economy would not be transformed overnight, and like all independent countries there would be challenges to face.

But there are real grounds for optimism. With limited economic powers, since the SNP came to office productivity and economic growth per head have grown faster in Scotland than the UK as a whole.

We have great economic strengths and potential with incredible renewable energy resources, world-class food and drink industries, brilliant universities, a fantastic tourism offering, and a growing space and satellite-building sector to name just a few.

Similar sized independent European countries to Scotland, which have the full range of economic powers, are wealthier and fairer than the UK.

So, at this election the SNP is determined to break the conspiracy of silence at Westminster over the spending cuts to come and the damage of Brexit.

Most importantly we are offering a positive, practical vision of a stronger economy as an independent country back where we belong – as an equal member of the European Union.