Henry McLeish: I’d back Scottish independence after Brexit

Former first minister Henry McLeish. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

Former first minister Henry McLeish. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

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FORMER Labour First Minister Henry McLeish has warned that the UK would split if there is a vote to leave the EU - and says he will back Scottish independence if this happens.

Mr McLeish says there would be a “constitutional crisis” if the UK votes to leave the EU in the forthcoming referendum, likely to be later this year, while voters in Scotland decide to stay in.

If Scotland votes to stay in the EU and we are taken out by English votes the quite frankly I’d want to be part of an independent Scotland who in turn was a new member of the European Union

Henry McLeish

Nicola Sturgeon has previously indicated that such a scenario could trigger another quickfire referendum on Scottish independence.

Mr McLeish told the Sunday Times: “If Scotland votes to stay in the EU and we are taken out by English votes the quite frankly I’d want to be part of an independent Scotland who in turn was a new member of the European Union.

“I would simply have had enough at that point of UK politics, Conservative politics and to me a catastrophic decision which is not in the interests of Britain.”

He anticipates there would be another referendum on Scotland leaving the UK in the event of a No vote in the referendum on EU membership, but does say that a vote to leave is unlikely.

Polling has indicated that Scots will vote clearly to stay in the EU, while the rest of the UK appears to be split on the issue.

Mr McLeish, who was First Minister between 2000 and 2001, was at the centre of speculation he would come out in favour of a Yes vote in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, but declined to do so.

Prime Minister David Cameron today said he would not resign if the country voted for the UK to leave the EU.

He insisted a British exit from the EU is not “the right answer” as he said he was “close” to securing a renegotiation deal.

The Prime Minister made clear that his preference was to hold an in-out referendum on reformed membership terms this summer - but hinted he could delay it until next year if a new package is not finalised in the coming weeks.

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