I know I'll be criticised for saying this, but I'm just going to be honest anyway - I'm slightly disturbed by an apparent subtle change in the mood-music coming from the Scottish Government over the last 24 hours. I took the BBC's Mark Mardell to task the other day for what I thought was the utterly ludicrous suggestion that the SNP would eventually "join the forces of soft Brexit", but from the Herald's summary of the "red lines" agreed by the expert standing council, it appears that may be exactly what's beginning to happen. If what we're seeking is merely "access to the single market" and "rights of free movement of people", that sounds very much like a push for Britain to adopt the Norway or Swiss models, rather than for Scotland to remain a full part of the EU when Britain leaves. It doesn't sit very comfortably with the very specific "Remain means Remain" pledge that has been made several times.
I'm sure some of you will say that anything in the Herald that isn't a direct quote should be treated with caution, but even the public statements seem slightly different in tone suddenly. I listened to Nicola Sturgeon's interview on Reporting Scotland, and as far as I can recall she didn't make any reference at all to her objective of keeping Scotland in the EU, but simply affirmed the considerably vaguer goals of maintaining links with Europe and protecting Scotland's interests.
As it happens, the red lines are still extremely tough and are highly unlikely to be met, because we know that Theresa May is minded to prioritise ending the free movement of people, which in turn precludes continued membership of the single market. But I just hope there's no further slippage in the negotiating position. The Herald refers to the possibility of a "salvage" operation if efforts to retain meaningful ties fail, and for my part, let me say this : no, I do not think retaining the European Arrest Warrant (which is pretty much the worst thing about the EU) is anything like enough of a consolation prize to justify forgoing a second independence referendum.