Scottish independence: Tony Benn: ‘UK split would divide me with a knife’

Tony Benn. Picture: Getty
Tony Benn. Picture: Getty
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VETERAN Labour politician Tony Benn has spoken out against Scottish independence, saying splitting up Britain would divide him in half with a knife.

In an interview with The Scotsman, the former Cabinet minister has spoken of his Scottish ancestry and his opposition to Alex Salmond’s plans.

Mr Benn said the fact that his mother Margaret Eadie, a famous theologian, was from Glasgow had a great bearing on his view.

“I have always been very strongly in favour of the Scottish Parliament and devolution, and I think it’s been a big success,” he told The Scotsman.

“If Scotland wants to be independent they have the absolute right to do so. But I think nationalism is a mistake. And I am half Scots and feel it would divide me in half with a knife.

“The thought that my mother would suddenly be a foreigner would upset me very much.”

Both Mr Benn’s grandfathers were Liberal MPs, one of them for Glasgow Govan, and he has always loved Scotland.

“I remember London was flooded in 1928 when I was three,” he says. “We had to move to Glasgow for a year.

“I’ve always felt very much at home in Scotland. They are very serious and friendly people.”

His political outlook was heavily influenced by the role played by the trades unions
in the Clydeside shipbuilding industry.

He claimed that in the early Seventies he was radicalised, in part, by the strikes and sit-ins at Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, which he supported when he was minister for shipbuilding.