Tony Blair: Brexit makes case for Scottish independence 'more credible'
Tony Blair sparked a fresh Labour split today by declaring that the vote to leave the EU makes the case for Scottish independence "more credible".
But the former Prime Minister insisted that regardless of Brexit, he still wants Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.
And he warned that quitting the UK would be more damaging to the Scottish economy than leaving the European Union.
His remarks came amid mounting speculation that Nicola Sturgeon is preparing to fire the starting gun on another independence referendum less than three years after the last one.
Speaking at an Open Britain event in London, Mr Blair said: "The possibility of the break-up of the UK – narrowly avoided by the result of the Scottish referendum – is now back on the table, but this time with a context much more credible for the independence case."
He added: "I want Scotland to remain in the UK, even if Brexit goes ahead. Scotland's single market with England is of far greater importance to it economically than Scotland's interaction with the rest of Europe."
However, the former Labour leader was immediately slapped down by his party's only Scottish MP, Ian Murray, who said Brexit made the case for independence weaker.
Mr 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.
"On jobs, public finances, currency, trade, investment in schools and hospitals, and much more, Scotland benefits from remaining part of the UK. As Tony Blair said, the UK single market is our most important market."
But the SNP welcomed Mr Blair's remarks.
Stephen Gethins MP, the party's Europe spokesman, said: "Tony Blair’s comments simply reflect the reality that the independence debate now is fundamentally different to the one in 2014 – and the Tories’ threat of a hard Brexit at any cost to Scotland is only going to see support for an independent Scotland rise further still."