THE US congressman who backed independence for Scotland has repeated his support for Yes as he prepares to quit politics.

Republican John “Jimmy” Duncan is to step down after 30 years.

The Tennessee politician was the highest level US politician to come out in favour of the Yes campaign in 2014.

Yesterday he told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland that his support stands – but only if the country does not go “too far down the socialist path”.

The interview comes days before America goes to the polls in its congressional elections.

Duncan, co-chair of the Congressional Friends of Scotland Caucus, said the backing is based on his preference for governance that is “closer to the people”.

The veteran congressman, who has spent 30 years in office, initially declared his Yes support in a pre-referendum interview with America’s Fox News.

He stated: “It would be good if Scotland became an independent country as long as they allowed free enterprise and didn’t go too far down the socialist path.

“There was an article written in a publication in Tennessee about me one time and they entitled it The Independent Man.”

Claiming that Scots would “feel very much at home” in his state due to similarities between them, he said he’d gotten “a kick” out of his role with the caucus – which has its own official tartan. He went on: “About 15 years ago they called me from the Scottish section of the British Embassy and said that they had done some research and I had more Scottish ancestry than any other member of congress.

“They wanted to know if I would help to found a Friends of Scotland Caucus. It was a surprise to me when they called but I got a kick out of it.”

Duncan denied his decision to retire was influenced by an investigation into his campaign finances by the Congressional Ethics Committee.

Setting out his reasoning, he said the time has come to spend more time with his family.

Duncan, who has met with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and played a role in America’s annual Scotland Week, said: “You look at the obituaries every day and I started noticing four or five years ago that half the men were dying younger than me.

“I decided that I had spent enough time waiting at airports and flying on planes and I wanted to spend some time at home with my grandchildren.”

The Republican also emphasised his continuing endorsement of US President Donald Trump.

He said: “He’s done very good on most of the big things.”

However, Duncan went on: “There are a lot of things he’s said and done that even his strongest supporters and members of his family wished he hadn’t said and done.

“He’s like everyone else, he’s not perfect.”

On the relationship between the two, Duncan told of a call made by the then-candidate to his Knoxville home, saying: “He called me at my house and he talked to me for about 20 minutes and my wife wasn’t speaking to me for some strange reason.

“I said, ‘Mr Trump would you have a moment to speak to my wife?’

“She came downstairs five minutes later and said he was so nice. He told her, ‘Your husband sounds a lot like me’. And she said, ‘I know – good for the country but hell to live with’. Mr Trump got a huge kick out of that.”