MORE European leaders will break their silence on Scotland now Brexit is in motion, a former MEP predicts.

The prediction comes after Donald Tusk, the former president of the European Council, said the EU would give an “enthusiastic” welcome to an independent Scotland.

However, he cautioned that re-entry to the bloc would not be “automatic”.

Alyn Smith, who is now an MP, said Tusk – who once said there was a “special place in hell” for “those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan of how to carry it out safely” – was expressing what some senior European figures have said privately “for some time”.

And he predicted we will “see more” public statements of support for an independent Scotland in the EU.

Smith 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.”

Tusk’s comments were broadcast on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday.

During the interview, the Polish politician said: “Sometimes I feel I am Scottish. I am very Scottish now, especially after Brexit.”

He said Theresa May had “tried a lot to find the best possible solution”, but was “totally helpless”.

Tusk said Remainers had not been “organised enough” before December’s General Election, which saw Johnson increase the Tory majority needed to deliver his Brexit agenda.

However, the party lost seven of its 13 Scottish seats as the SNP’s share grew to 47.

Strength of Remainer sentiment in this country – which voted against Brexit – remains high, as seen in the vigils and rallies marking Brexit Day on Friday.

Crowds gathered at Holyrood and in many other areas, including Aberdeen, Kirriemuir, Greenock and Ullapool. On the same day, German MEP and European Greens co-president Ska Keller said it would be “stupid” of any European Union member state to veto the membership of an independent Scotland.

Tusk 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.” He went on: “If something like, for example, the independence of Scotland happens, then we need a regular process. It would be a new process.”

However, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab criticised Tusk’s comments, telling Marr they were “frankly un-European and rather irresponsible, given the secessionist, separatist tendencies in Spain, in France, in Italy”.

The politician, once dubbed “Raab C Brexit” while heading the now-shuttered Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU), went on: “I’m not sure European leaders, let alone leaders here in the UK would actually welcome that kind of language.” He also insisted Brexit is a “great opportunity” for Scotland and accused the SNP of using independence as a “distraction from the standards in schools, the high level of taxes” under its Holyrood leadership.

The latest opinion poll puts support for independence at 51%.