A leading architect of Scottish devolution has suggested his faith in the British union has been shaken by Brexit.
Sir Kenneth Calman, the former chair of Commission on Scottish Devolution, said he is not sure where his sympathies would lie if Scottish independence was suggested again after Brexit.
The former UK chief medical officer told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that he would prefer the UK to remain in the European Union, insisting Brexit will be significantly detrimental to funding and staffing in the health sector.
Asked if he would back Scottish independence if Brexit goes ahead, he said: “I’m not sure. I’m not positive about Brexit…I think our links with Europe are very important and Scottish links with Europe and medicine over the last three centuries has been extraordinarily positive, so I’m not particularly for Brexit.
“If we went to Brexit and Scotland decided to become independent, or that was suggested, then I would think about it but I’m not sure at this moment.”
Sir Kenneth, current chancellor of Glasgow University and father of comedian Susan Calman, added: “I’ve thought quite hard about it, because it is very much in the news, and I still find it difficult to find the reasons for being independent. “The ability to link with the rest of the UK is actually quite important, and if we hadn’t I wouldn’t have had the opportunities that I had — to become chief medical officer for England for example — at least I don’t think I would.
“The link between the two countries is very strong in lots of different ways.”
Calman Commission would not consider independence
The Commission on Scottish Devolution was convened in 2007 by Holyrood’s unionist parties to review Scotland’s powers within the UK and head off the growing influence of the ruling Scottish National Party, which opposed the Commission because it was not given a remit to consider independence.
Its recommendations informed the Scotland Act 2012, which was quickly superseded by the Smith Commission which was convened after Scotland rejected independence in 2014 to deliver “The Vow” of even more powers made on the eve of the referendum.
Murray Foote, the former Daily Record editor who brought unionist leaders together to deliver “The Vow”, recently revealed he now backs independence after his own faith in the union was shattered by the Brexit vote.
A “soft” departure from the United Kingdom?
The SNP convened yet another constitutional commission after Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016 — the Sustainable Growth Commission — designed to address the concerns of those that have hitherto rejected independence with a sober analysis of Scotland’s economic prospects.
Andrew Wilsion, the Commission’s chairman, today said nationalists should pursue a “soft” departure from the UK — in language which echoes the current debate about a “soft Brexit”.
“What we would be hoping for is the softest of possible changes, compared to the hardest that we are seeing Britain dealing with [in] Europe,” he told the Sunday Herald.
He said Scots were not “generally ready” for independence yet but suggesting they are up for another debate. “I don’t think people are quite ready yet, but I think they are readying, should the question be required,” he said.
“I don’t know when that will be, whether it will be months or years. That’s a really difficult call.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to outline her plans for a second independence referendum in the autumn once the terms of Brexit become clear.
This story first appeared on our sister title iNews.