Tony Blair: Scotland would be independent if not for devolution

The former Prime Minister suggested that without his party offering the devolution referendum in 1997 Scotland could have left the UK. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
The former Prime Minister suggested that without his party offering the devolution referendum in 1997 Scotland could have left the UK. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
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If not for devolution Scotland might have been independent by now, Tony Blair has said.

The former Prime Minister suggested that without his party offering the devolution referendum in 1997 the country could have left the UK.

He said Brexit has boosted support for Scottish independence but warned that in both instances he believes improvements in areas such as health, education or the economy lies in amending policy, not constitutional change.

In an interview with Holyrood magazine, Labour’s longest serving Prime Minister said he believed devolution had been “essentially a success” as Scotland remained within the UK and any regrets he had are over not considering more ways to increase cultural alignment between the two.

“But having said that, I think people forget that there was a huge amount of pressure for devolution as an alternative to independence and if we hadn’t offered that alternative, you might have had an independent Scotland by now,” he said.

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“Ultimately, I think we overestimated, for sure, the degree to which devolution would quash independence, that’s correct... But I think were it not for Brexit now, probably the mood in Scotland would be less in favour of independence than for some time.”

He added: “I’m not saying it will happen, because I still think there are very strong arguments against it, and obviously I’m not in favour of it, even after Brexit, if we do Brexit.

“But you know, I think when I said this before people criticised it, but it seems to me absolutely bloody obvious - if Scotland is in favour of staying in Europe, and you wrench the UK out of Europe, then yep, people who are arguing for independence are going to have another dimension to their argument.

“It doesn’t mean to say I agree with it, but it’s bound to have an impact.”