SCOTLAND is “perfectly capable” of self-government and “has a right to seek independence”, according to former Tory prime minister John Major.

Writing in the Financial Times, Major wrote that it would be “unwise” for Westminster to dismiss indyref2 calls or delay a referendum, instead calling on his party to “expose the reality of separation”.

The Tory tactic against calls for a new vote have so far been to say the 2014 referendum was once in a generation, and therefore should not take place for some time yet.

Earlier this year Boris Johnson even suggested decades could pass before a new ballot is held on the matter.

The National:

In his column, Major described these once in a generation refusals as an “error” – suggesting that “such a hardline approach is more likely to provoke a break-up than prevent it”.

“Scotland cannot be kept forever in an arrangement if her people wish to end it,” Major wrote. “To save the Union, Scots must be persuaded by hard facts that it is in their interest to do so. Prime Minister Boris Johnson probably has a legal right to refuse to sanction a second independence referendum. But he should be wary how he uses that power.”

The former Tory leader accepted that in 2014 Scots were told they could stay in the EU by voting No – but this promise fell apart within two years of the referendum.

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He says the SNP will use this “genuine” grievance – and “imagined” ones – to portray Westminster as hostile to devolution. “This will increase political conflict, create resentment in England and pull the two nations apart,” he argued.

“Scotland is a definable and proud nation,” he went on. “She is perfectly capable of self-government and, whether or not it would be a wise decision, has a right to seek independence. Yet it is unknown what that would mean in practice. The Scottish Government has not set it out in detail, and the British Government shows no appetite for doing so.”

Major called on his party to “engage, encourage, examine and explore arrangements to emphasise the value of a UK working in harmony”.

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“With facts and reason, it should be possible to persuade a majority of Scots that it is better to remain in the Union than to leave it,” he argued.

The article came as former First Minister Alex Salmond launched his new Alba Party yesterday. Salmond believes his list-only party can help secure a “supermajority” for Yes in the Scottish Parliament.

The launch of the party prompted Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross to reach out to the other Unionist parties in Holyrood, calling for them to work together and pledge to a “pro-UK” coalition after May’s vote.