AN independent Scotland would be first in line to rejoin the European Union, according to an expert from the London School of Economics.

As reported in the Herald on Sunday, visiting professor James Ker-Lindsay has claimed that a newly-independent Scotland would move into a "fast-track line" for membership, and could "overtake the other countries in short order and join the EU relatively quickly".

There have been repeated claims that Scotland would join the "back of the queue" for European Union membership if it chose the leave the UK. Following this intervention, however, the SNP now say this "myth" has been demolished.

As far back as 2014, No campaigners such as David Cameron were claiming that Scotland would have to "queue up as it were behind other countries – for instance those in the western Balkans that are already on the path towards membership”

But Ker-Lindsay has stated that no policy maker “would put Scotland in the same basket as the western Balkans”.

In a blog post published by the Scottish Centre on European Relations, Ker-Lindsay said: “In terms of the political framework, there is no doubt that Scotland stands apart from the countries currently in the queue.

“In every way, the historical, political, economic and even social contexts are completely different.”

“Leaving aside the fact that Scotland was part of the EU for 47 years by virtue of British membership, the differences between Scotland and the western Balkans could not be starker.”

He said this meant EU members “will almost certainly treat Scotland very differently when it comes to making the political decisions about whether or not to open accession talks”.

“However, while the political framework could not be more different, one would imagine that the formal negotiating process will have to remain essentially the same.

“The Commission would assess the situation in terms of each chapter and report back on whether convergence exists. It would then be for members to make their decisions.

“That said, one cannot overlook the specific circumstances that would arise in the case of Scotland.”

He concluded: “Ultimately, if the member states wish to acknowledge the fundamental differences that exist between Scotland and the Western Balkans, and adjust the wider framework of negotiations, they can – and I suspect would – do so.

“To this extent, any claim that Scotland would have to go to the back of the queue may be theoretically correct, but only as a simple statement of fact. At the moment of independence, it would not have taken any of the steps to join that the others have done.

“However, it would almost certainly be moved to the fast track line. From there, it would still be subject to the same checks as everyone else. However, assuming the paperwork is all in order and there haven’t been many or significant divergences, one would expect it to overtake the other countries in short order and join the EU relatively quickly.”

Responding to the comments, the SNP’s deputy leader Keith Brown said it was  “yet another intervention demolishing one of the Unionist myths from 2014”.

He said: “People in Scotland overwhelmingly voted to stay in the EU – and despite being dragged out against our will by a Tory government with no mandate here, Scotland remains a European country with European values.

“There is now unstoppable momentum for a referendum, and the ability to protect our place at the heart of Europe.

“Scotland must have the chance to choose our own future as an independent, European nation.”