THE First Minister has highlighted a leading academic’s endorsement of Scottish independence in the wake of the GERS figures being published this week.

Mark Blyth, a Dundee-born professor of international political economy at Brown University in Rhode Island, shared an article by Andrew Wilson in which he argues that Scotland’s public spending deficit makes the case for independence.

Posting the article online, the Angrynomics author added: “I keep getting asked about my views on Scottish independence. So are it is.

“I'm for it. Why? Because the UK growth model is unsustainable and Scotland can do better than simply subsist on inter-regional transfers. This piece tipped me over the edge.”

READ MORE: Former Unionist dog food seller clashes with Andrew Wilson over GERS figures

He went on: “And now, having posted that, I can tell you I will not be spending the next two weeks in Twitter-tizzy with either Nationalists or Unionists. So don't expect lengthy defenses or otherwise. I've got work to do.”

The First Minister reposted the tweets, alongside one from freelance journalist David Leask who commented: “This is a massive endorsement for independence and a remarkable end to usually fractious and difficult GERS week.”

The Skotia's Michael Gray added: "Professor Mark Blyth is a serious, respected economist.

"'Scotland can do better' with independence. We know there are big economic challenges. The best response is to have power to act in uncertain times, rather than accept managed decline with Tory Brexit."

The annual Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland statistics have become a battleground in the independence debate, with those who back Yes arguing they demonstrate why the country should leave the Union, and No voters claiming they show the importance of the UK.

Richard Murphy, another professor of international political economy, said yesterday that “every single figure you look at [in GERS] is biased against Scotland”.

Meanwhile, Fraser of Allander has noted that the figures do not provide a conclusive projection of an independent Scotland’s economic prospects. They wrote that “if an independent Scotland would bring about structural changes to the economy and society, the figures in GERS say little about the long-term finances of an independent Scotland”.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes made a similar argument to Blyth this week, saying the GERS figures show Scotland remaining in the UK is not financially sustainable.

She told journalists: “Although GERS is not the Scottish Government’s budget and reflects the current constitutional arrangements whereby another government’s policy choices are allocated to Scotland, the publication sets out the context for why the status quo and the present constitutional arrangements are unsustainable.”

READ MORE: Kate Forbes says GERS figures show Scotland in UK is 'financially unsustainable'

She added it was “incredibly frustrating” that Scotland could not borrow to invest in its recovery.

Forbes went on: “GERS reflects the current constitutional position. There are perfectly legitimate questions to ask about these figures, but based on these figures nobody can or should defend the status quo of the current constitutional arrangements.

“Instead, this publication once again strengthens calls for additional fiscal and economic powers to manage our public finances in a sustainable way and invest in recovery.

“Scotland simply cannot afford not to have the powers of a normal independent country.”