Tony Blair: Scottish independence case ‘much more credible’

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Tony Blair claimed the case for Scottish independence is “much more credible” after the Brexit vote and warned the break up of the UK was back on the agenda.

The former prime minister made his remarks in a speech calling on pro-Europeans to “rise up” and persuade Leave voters to change their minds about quitting the EU.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair will say today that the case for Scottish independence has been made "much more credible" following the Brexit vote. Picture: WPA Pool/Getty Images

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair will say today that the case for Scottish independence has been made "much more credible" following the Brexit vote. Picture: WPA Pool/Getty Images

Mr Blair rejected the idea that leaving the EU was “inevitable” despite the vote against EU membership recorded last year.

As he urged “progressives” to make it their “mission” to reverse the outcome of June’s referendum, Mr Blair gave his view on the Scottish implications of the Brexit vote.

“In addition to all this, there is the possibility of the break-up of the UK, narrowly avoided by the result of the Scottish referendum, but now back on the table, but this time with a ­context much more credible for the independence case,” Mr Blair said.

Questioned following the speech at the London headquarters of financial firm Bloomberg, Mr Blair added: “I want Scotland to remain in the UK. Even if Brexit goes ahead, I’m still in favour of Scotland remaining in the UK.

“Let’s be very clear, Scotland’s single market with England is of far greater importance to it economically than Scotland’s interaction with the rest of Europe.

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“When myself and John Major warned this would be a threat to the UK we meant it, and it was true, and you can see that by the referendum coming back on the agenda.”

His remarks were pounced on by the SNP with Nicola Sturgeon telling BBC Scotland that Mr Blair was “stating the obvious”.

The First Minister, who has already said a second referendum is “highly likely”, added she believes the case for independence is “even more compelling” now than it was at the time of the 2014 referendum.

Mr Blair’s remarks will be seen as unhelpful for Scottish Labour, which has been attempting to promote the message that there should not be a second independence referendum.

Scottish Labour Westminster spokesman Ian Murray said: “The Tory Brexit chaos has certainly given the SNP the excuse it was looking for to stoke up more grievance.

“But the reality is that the economic case for separation is even worse now than when the people of Scotland rejected it in 2014.”

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “Tony Blair may not be aware of it but the fact is that only around a quarter of people in Scotland want another referendum on independence now.”

He added the SNP’s attempts to use Brexit to muster support for another Scottish independence referendum had “failed”.

Arguing for the Brexit decision to be looked at again, Mr Blair said: “I accept right now there is no widespread appetite to rethink. But the people voted without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit. As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their mind. Our mission is to persuade them to do so.

“I don’t know if we can ­succeed. But I do know we will suffer a rancorous verdict from future generations if we do not try.”