TRYING to claim independence without a referendum approved by the UK Government would leave Scotland “somewhere on a spectrum between Catalonia and Taiwan” a top academic has warned.

Anthony Salamone, of Edinburgh-based think-tank European Merchants, made the claim in his new report, Right to Decide, a “strategic perspective on Scotland’s independence referendum debate”.

He says that with support for a Yes vote rising, the next referendum will be the “independence side’s to lose”. But he warns “effective independence” can only be achieved with “Scotland-rUK co-operation throughout the independence process: referendum, negotiations, recognition”.

If Boris Johnson refuses to hand Sotland powers to hold a legally watertight vote, even with a pro-independence of MSPs elected to Holyrood next year, Salamone suggests the “Scottish Government and wider Scotland ... should respond in a constructive, measured and purposeful way”.

He adds: “Scottish society should unite in the view that a referendum must take place, regardless of opinions on independence. The sole objective should be to secure a referendum through dialogue and persuasion, based on a strong democratic, political and moral case.”

The report also says that in these circumstances it would be wrong to appeal to the EU as some in the SNP have suggested. MP Pete Wishart sparked debate when he said Scotland should ask Brussels to “sanction” indyref2 if the UK “refuses to participate in an agreed vote in the face of majority support and a clear democratic mandate”.

Salamone writes: “Every effort must be made to avoid bringing Scotland’s constitutional debate into its official European relations.

“The more independence is raised, the more likely it is that substantive bilateral relations will be curtailed. Such a scenario would adversely affect Scotland’s ability to form and maintain effective partnerships with European actors in the years ahead. Were Scottish institutions ever to proceed with a process of independence without the agreement of the UK, whether through a Unilateral Declaration of Independence or other unilateral action, it would not result in effective independence.

“In such a case, Scotland would land somewhere on a spectrum between Catalonia and Taiwan. No recourse to a higher international authority would be available.

“The international community would accept the UK Government’s view that Scotland was still part of the UK and, as far as it was concerned, the matter would

be closed.”

Responding, the SNP’s Alyn Smith said: “Independence does not happen in a vacuum, the international aspects of the process are crucial to credibility not just abroad but in the eyes of a lot of people in Scotland too.

“It is absolutely right that the EU should not be appealed to in order to defend rights we do not have, the Catalans made the same mistake and we should not let the UK Government off the hook.

“Scotland’s claim is strong, and rooted in the community of Scotland. Our international friends will be there when the time comes, but independence is first and foremost a matter of persuading the people of Scotland and where a few polls have been encouraging we still have work to do there.”