Scotland will vote to become independent if the UK leaves the EU, Tony Blair has warned.
In a high profile intervention, the former Prime Minister said he was “very worried” about the outcome of the referendum on whether or not Britain should remain tethered to Brussels.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland voting to stay but the UK voting to leave would trigger “an overwhelming demand” for a second independence poll north of the border, a point of view Mr Blair appeared to endorse.
During an interview with France’s Europe 1 radio station, he said: “There’s a little-mentioned aspect, which is that, in my opinion, if the UK votes to leave Europe, Scotland will vote to leave the UK.”
Labour’s most successful leader said it was important that Britain remains in the EU because of the “strategic and economic” benefits in the face of emerging powers such as India and China.
He also predicted that David Cameron would “get his demands” in his EU renegotiations and it was “an opportunity for Europe to make the necessary reforms”.
Asked if he believe voters would choose to stay instead of plumping for a so-called Brexit, he replied: “I hope yes, I think yes.”
Rumours are circulating around Westminster that June 23 is the most likely date for decision day. Ms Sturgeon last week said such a move would be “disrespectful” because campaigning would cut across the Holyrood elections.
French-born SNP North East Scotland MSP Christian Allard said: “Tony Blair is the latest Labour figure to raise doubts over the EU referendum’s impact on Scotland – with leader of the Labour In campaign Alan Johnson previously saying that if Scotland is forced to leave the EU against its will it would cause a ‘constitutional crisis’.
“Polls show that voters in Scotland are consistently in favour of remaining in the EU – in stark contrast with the situation in the rest of the UK, where the polls are on a knife-edge.
“The SNP will strongly make the case that EU membership is in Scotland’s best interests and we hope for a positive result across the UK but there remains a very real risk that Scotland will be dragged out of Europe against our wishes and in that case, people in Scotland will quickly come to the conclusion that Westminster is simply incapable of representing Scotland’s interests.”