DONALD Tusk, the former European Council president, has said Brussels feels "empathy" towards an independent Scotland joining the European Union.

When asked about the possibilty of an independent Scotland re-joining the EU, Tusk claimed that "emotionally I have no doubt that everyone will be enthusiastic".

However, he also warned that a future bid to join the bloc would not automatically be accepted.

Speaking in an interview to be aired on The Andrew Marr Show, Tusk stated "I want to stop myself from saying something too blunt" before saying he feels "very Scottish, especially after Brexit".

When pressed on the prospect of an independent Scotland coming back to the EU, he said: "Emotionally I have no doubt that everyone will be enthusiastic here in Brussels, and more generally in Europe.

"If you ask me about our emotions, you will witness I think always empathy."

Commenting, SNP Shadow Foreign Secretary Alyn Smith MP said: “Donald Tusk’s comments underline the reality that Scotland would be welcomed back into the EU with open arms as an independent country. What senior Europeans are saying in public is what they have been saying in private for some time.

“Scotland has been taken out of the EU against our will by a Tory government with no mandate here - but Scotland remains a European country with European values, and we can protect our place at the heart of Europe with independence.

“There is now an unstoppable momentum for an independence referendum. People in Scotland must have a choice over our future - instead of having it imposed on us by Westminster.

“The SNP won a landslide victory at the general election on a cast-iron mandate to hold an independence referendum. Civic Scotland is backing a referendum. The Scottish Parliament has voted for a referendum. Boris Johnson must stop denying democracy and accept Scotland’s right to determine our own future.

"Sadly the UK is no longer an EU member state but a welcome side effect of that is Scotland's independence is no longer something our European friends feel is not a matter for them to voice a view upon. We'll see more of this."

Last year, Tusk's predecessor Herman Van Rompuy claimed that Brexit had changed attitudes in Scotland towards independence.

Scotland voted in favour of staying in the EU by 62% to 38% in 2016.