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Tony Blair: Scottish independence 'more credible' after Brexit vote

Tony Blair will say the case for Scottish independence is "much more credible" after the Brexit vote.

The former Prime Minister will warn in a speech later that the break-up of the UK is now "back on the table".

In a speech for Open Britain, which is campaigning against a so-called "hard Brexit" outside the European single market, Mr Blair will claim people voted to the leave European Union "without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit" and should change their mind.

Mr Blair will say: "Those driving this always wanted a hard Brexit. Indeed, even the term hard Brexit requires amendment. The policy is now Brexit at any cost.

"Our challenge is to expose relentlessly the actual cost, to show how this decision was based on imperfect knowledge which will now become informed knowledge, to calculate in 'easy to understand' ways how proceeding will cause real damage to the country and its citizens and to build support for finding a way out from the present rush over the cliff's edge.

"I don't know if we can succeed. But I do know we will suffer a rancorous verdict from future generations if we do not try."

On Scotland, he is expected to say: "In addition to all this, 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."

Nicola Sturgeon has said another Scottish independence referendum is "almost inevitable" in the event of a hard Brexit.

The SNP argues since a majority in Scotland voted to Remain, this represents a material change in circumstances sufficient to make the case for a second independence vote.

Labour and Tories also criticised Mr Blair's claims of credibility but the SNP said his comments "reflect the reality".

Scottish Labour Westminster spokesman Ian 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."

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: "Tony Blair may not be aware of it but the fact is that only around a quarter of people in Scotland want another referendum on independence now."

He said the SNP's attempts to use Brexit to muster support for another Scottish independence referendum had "failed".

SNP Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins said: ''The case for independence is more compelling than ever and will only become even more so when the full impact of a Tory hard Brexit with its economic and other consequences starts to become clear.

"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.

"We are determined to keep Scotland's place in the European single market - which is around eight times bigger than the UK's alone - and independence must be an option if it becomes clear it is the best or only way of doing so."

Ross Greer MSP, the Scottish Greens' external affairs spokesman, said: "The case for independence is stronger now than it has ever been.

"Independence would allow Scotland to stay with Europe and avoid the angry, isolated Brexit Britain planned by the Tories, one which will cost Scotland 80,000 jobs, a £2,000 drop in average wages and worse."

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