UNIONISTS were angered yesterday after EU Commission president Ursula Von Der Leyen left a door open for Scotland when asked if the nation could rejoin as an independent country.

Scotland voted by 62% to Remain at the 2016 Brexit referendum, but the UK is due to leave the European Union completely at the end of the year when the transition period is up.

SNP MPs have called for negotiations with the bloc to be delayed as countries focus their energies on fighting the coronavirus crisis, but UK Government ministers have rejected that idea and are continuing to discuss a future trade arrangement.

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Yesterday Hungarian MEP István Ujhelyi, of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Group, asked what the possibility was of Scotland breaking free of the “prison of Great Britain”.

Nicola Sturgeon's party is pushing for another referendum on Scottish independence for 2020, which, given the results of the Scottish National Party in the last elections of 12 December 2019, could have an unequivocal result.

“What are the chances for independent Scotland to join the European Union?"

Von Der Leyen told the MEP: “Any European State, which respects and promotes the values of the EU, may apply to become a member of the Union.”

Online the comment sparked anger among Unionists, with social media users warning the Commission president the situation is “none of her business” and Scotland did not want independence.

However recent opinion polls have put support for Yes and No on an equal footing – and earlier in the year a series of surveys found support for independence was ahead of support for the Union.

A recent poll of Holyrood election voting intentions for next year also found 54% of people intend to back the SNP in the constituency vote.

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Earlier this year former European Council president Donald Tusk said the EU would “enthusiastic” if an independent Scotland wanted to rejoin the bloc.

Official independence campaigning has been paused during the coronavirus crisis, but some figures, like Joanna Cherry, have insisted the party must not lost site of its ultimate goal of independence for Scotland.