A SUSTAINED surge in support for independence is no surprise given the Tory Government’s treatment of Scotland, an economic and policy expert has said.

Miriam Brett – director of research and advocacy at Common Wealth think tank and former SNP economic adviser – also warned it’s “imminently clear” that Boris Johnson's regime is willing to put the NHS on the table in any post-Brexit trade negotiations. 

Speaking on Question Time in Edinburgh, she gave her thoughts on why backing for a Yes vote has reached historic highs.

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“I’m not surprised to see growing appetite for independence,” Brett said. “I think we’ve had a multitude of factors. I don’t think there’s any one single factor that has increased the support for independence.

“It’s important to bear in mind where we were prior to this. We’ve faced a decade of austerity from a government that we didn’t vote for. We saw a Brexit vote pushed through from another government that we didn’t vote for, backed by billionaire financiers. And when Scotland voted Remain it didn’t make an ounce of difference.”

The think tank chief added that new “power grab” legislation was only pushing the country closer to leaving the Union.

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She explained: “Now we see the pushing through of the Internal Market Bill which I think, to quote Mark Drakeford the Welsh First Minister, is an enormous power grab.

“And we’re seeing a shoring up, a concentration of powers, in Westminster from the devolved nations and that matters most now because what that does it set the standards going forward for goods and services.

“Now that’s important because we are heading into trade deals – I’d argue it’s probably not going to be the UK Government that’s going to set those standards, it’s probably going to be the US and whoever our trade deals are with. Frankly, we’re going to see a race to the bottom and I think it is imminently clear that areas like our NHS will be on the table.

“We have already seen concerns from farmers, we have already seen concerns from environmental campaigners and unions about what the prospect of that might be.”

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Host Fiona Bruce pointed out that the UK Government has repeatedly insisted the NHS will not be on the table.

But Brett highlighted that earlier this year the Tories voted down an amendment to the Trade Bill which would have protected the health service from foreign interference.

Douglas Ross, who was among the MPs to vote against Clause 17, replied: “It’s been absolutely categorical that the NHS is not up for sale in these trade deals.”