THERE would be “complete openness” to welcoming Scotland back into the European Union among bloc leaders, according to one expert.

Kirsty Hughes, the former director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations, said if Scots voted for independence in a legally binding referendum the 27 EU nations would be open to allowing the nation to re-enter.

Speaking at European Movement in Scotland webinar, Hughes added that the EU would be “very reluctant” to welcome the UK back into the bloc if it changed its mind on Brexit down the line.

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Asked about Scotland’s prospects of entering the EU as an independent country, Hughes said: "On the Scottish side I think there is complete openness if Scotland was to vote Yes in a constitutionally and legally valid referendum.

"There is complete openness to welcoming another small, northern European country into the European Union."

She explained that Scotland is seen as pro-European – with 62% of Brexit referendum voters here backing Remain in 2016 – and its “politics looks more normal at the moment”.

Meanwhile Hughes felt that the UK would face difficulty if it wanted to return to the EU after leaving politicians “disappointed, upset, angry and many other things at the Brexit vote”.

She went on: "I think the EU would be very reluctant in the near future to welcome a penitent UK back.

"It would have to be more than penitent, it would have to be one that had clearly worked through all its political, democratic, constitutional problems and come out the other side of that."