The Lib Dems have seized on conflicting positions from the SNP on an independent Scotland joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
Caithness, Sutherland and Ross candidate Molly Nolan said the view of her SNP rival, Maree Todd, was at odds with the party’s foreign affairs spokesman, Alyn Smith MP.
The issue of EFTA membership was raised this week after the Alba Party manifesto suggested it as the “secure position” for an independent Scotland, which could “yield results in months, not years”.
Ms Todd and SNP Shetland Tom Wills candidate seemed to previously back the idea that an independent Scotland could quickly join Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in the organisation, which participates in the European Single Market.
In a letter published by Shetland News in January, they wrote: “An independent Scotland could quickly join the European Free Trade Area and enjoy the same control over our fisheries as Norway has.”
However, in response to the Alba Party manifesto commitment on EFTA, their SNP colleague Mr Smith said: “EFTA/EEA are no easier or faster, create more problems than they solve and are considerably worse options for an independent Scotland.”
This week’s @ScotNational column: why Independence in Europe remains @theSNP policy, because it’s the best policy for Scotland 🏴🇪🇺. EFTA/EEA are no easier or faster, create more problems than they solve and are considerably worse options for an independent Scotland.
— Alyn Smith MP 🏴🇪🇺 (@AlynSmith) April 19, 2021
Liberal Democrat Ms Nolan said: “With people struggling through the pandemic, why do the nationalists choose to bicker about EFTA membership? It doesn’t help anyone.
“For Maree Todd to agree with Alex Salmond raises serious questions about her judgement, even in the view of her own SNP colleague who describe the plans as a fantasy.
“We need some credible proposals to help the fishing industry rather than pie in the sky claims.
“We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of Brexit with independence.
“Liberal Democrats will always reject the dishonest assertions from the nationalists and put recovery first.”
Party leader Willie Rennie has previously said that Caithness, Sutherland and Ross seat is the top Lib Dem target at the election.
An SNP spokesman said: “Given the Liberal Democrats are now a pro-Brexit party, the only thing they ‘continue to reject’ is a pathway back into the European Union.
“The SNP are the only party in this election offering Scotland a route back into the European Union – and we shouldn’t forget Boris Johnson’s botched Brexit deal leaves many in the industry in a worse position than in the CFP.
“Only both votes SNP on May 6 can put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson.”