Second Scottish independence vote could ‘fundamentally’ damage UK, warns Blair

Former prime minister Tony Blair has spoken out against the prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum, insisting such a vote should not take place “unless there is a really big groundswell of opinion for it”.

The one-time Labour leader, whose government created the Scottish Parliament, voiced his fears that a fresh vote on independence could “fundamentally” damage the UK.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already made clear her desire to hold a ballot within the next two years.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

The SNP leader cites Scotland being removed from the European Union against the wishes of voters north of the border as grounds for another referendum, arguing this is a “material change in circumstances” from the 2014 vote.

But Mr Blair told The Herald: “I don’t think we should have one unless there really is a big groundswell of opinion for it and I don’t see that.

“To be brutally frank about it, the last thing we need at this moment is another huge dose of constitutional uncertainty, we really would start to damage ourselves fundamentally as a country.”

Mr Blair spoke out in an interview to mark the 20th anniversary of the first Holyrood elections in 1999.

The Parliament came into being after Scots voted for the devolved assembly in a referendum in September 1997 – four months after he was voted in as PM following a landslide Labour victory.

In the interview he stressed he still wanted Scotland to be part of the UK, saying people should “be in no doubt about that”.

But he conceded that Brexit was seen by independence supporters as another reason for Scotland to break away from the rest of the UK

“If you’re a Nationalist, it gives you an additional argument, which is another very good reason, by the way, for not doing Brexit,” Mr Blair argued.