Former prime minister Tony Blair has warned that a vote to leave the European Union would be followed by a second independence referendum that would see Scotland leave the UK.
In an interview on a French radio station, Mr Blair said: “There is a little-noticed dimension which is that, in my opinion, if the UK votes to leave Europe, Scotland will vote to leave the UK. It is extremely serious for Great Britain.”
Speaking in French, Mr Blair said he expected Prime Minister David Cameron to secure the package of reforms to British membership which he is seeking, and to lead the Remain camp in the in/out EU referendum campaign.
“There are big strategic and economic reasons to remain in Europe,” said the former PM. “I am worried because there will be a vote and it is always possible that people will vote for leaving Europe. But I hope not and I believe not.”
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond suggested agreement on the UK’s renegotiation of its relationship with the EU may be delayed beyond next month’s Brussels summit by the pressure of other urgent problems facing the 28-nation bloc.
Mr Hammond said it would by “inappropriate and unwise” for the UK to insist on sealing a deal at the European Council summit on 18-19 February, being held amid the migration crisis. But he said a June date for the referendum promised by Mr Cameron will become “much more difficult” if no agreement is reached then.