JOHN Major was strongly against plans to create two time zones in the UK, fearing it would “feed the separatist debate”, private Downing Street records show.

Files released by the National Archives in Kew show the then prime minister’s opposition to proposals mooted by English Tory politicians in 1994 and 1995. The creation of single/double summer time (SDST) would have moved the clocks forward an hour all year round, on top of British Summer Time, in a bid to create a longer day.

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However, the move was only to be applied to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, meaning Scotland would be on a different time zone to the rest of the UK. In a note on a memo, Major wrote: “It feeds the separatist debate – I am strongly against it and would like to say so.”

Scottish Tory minister Michael Forsyth wrote separately: “This is an extremely serious issue for me and, more importantly, for the party in Scotland.

“I think that colleagues have failed to appreciate the strength of feeling of those who would be condemned to an extra hour of darkness on winter mornings.

“There is widespread opposition to such a change throughout Scotland.”