SCOTTISH independence is becoming inevitable, according to former BBC presenter Gavin Esler.

The ex-Newsnight host, who described himself as having a “strong Unionist inclination”, says the UK now seems destined to break up.

Citing Brexit, Boris Johnson’s leadership and media bias, the Scot explains in a column for the Mail on Sunday why he believes the Union is “sliding at a glacial pace into a constitutional crisis”.

Esler warns Scots are “scunnered” and “thrawn”, writing: “If a nation of five million people can be summed up in two words right now, it is these two. Most Scots are scunnered by events at Westminster since 2016, notably by Brexit and what they see as the incompetence of Boris Johnson and his Government.”

He warns the UK is at a crossroads.

“Whether you are a British unionist or one of the several versions of Scottish, English, Welsh or Irish nationalists, the truth is that the United Kingdom is now united in name only,” Esler writes.

The National:

“The choice before us is either to come together and make profound changes to the way we are governed, or to accept that the UK is ultimately a failed state and agree to split apart.”

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He adds: “I have a strong Unionist background and inclination, yet I have come to believe that Britain may indeed be coming to its end. It is not alarm bells I hear. It’s a death knell.”

Esler believes the pandemic offered the perfect chance for the Prime Minister to heal the divide between the four nations of the UK after Brexit. However, that chance was squandered.

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“Rapidly, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland shrank to becoming the Prime Minister of England only – and at times only parts of England,” the former BBC host writes.

“The global health emergency prompted different national solutions, but in the UK the pandemic once more raised serious questions about our multinational state.”

Detailing why the constitutional crisis has come about, Esler notes broadcasting bias.

“Broadcasting organisations may present themselves as British national institutionsm,” he writes. “Yet they, too, are run very differently in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

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“To take one example, at the start of the pandemic, the Scottish businessman and SNP adviser Andrew Wilson posted a screen-grab on Twitter from an ITN News bulletin broadcast on the Scottish television channel STV. It showed a map of hospital bed ‘Critical Care Capacity’ in England and Wales, with Scotland cut off. Wilson’s ire was clear: ‘Come on. Make an effort, you are broadcasting to the whole UK.’

“Even the BBC, as a cherished institution paid for by everyone through the licence fee, is frequently lambasted for exhibiting precisely this kind of unthinking metropolitan bias.”

Esler, who ran as an anti-Brexit Change UK candidate in the 2019 European Parliament election, stops short of backing independence.

He points out that since its inception, the Union has been “reformed, renewed, reinvented and sometimes renamed” and advocates for a fresh approach.

He writes: “Federalism, I believe, can be seen as a strength that allows ‘British’ institutions to react on a local level. The question for the future is whether that devolutionary impulse can be made more coherent while maintaining the idea of a United Kingdom, with clear written rules.”

The National: SNP depute leader Keith BrownSNP depute leader Keith Brown

Responding to Esler’s comments, SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “The growing momentum behind independence, and a fresh referendum on our future, is unstoppable.

“Scotland has been dragged out of the EU against our will by a right-wing Tory government we didn’t vote for.

“People in Scotland want the chance to choose a better future, inside the EU. Boris Johnson’s Trump-style attempts to deny democracy simply won’t stand.

“The longer the Tories run scared of democracy, the more support for independence will grow.”