SCOTLAND should be strong-armed into staying in the Union by force of law, a Scottish Tory MSP has suggested.

Adam Tomkins, in a column for the Spectator, argued that the UK should be held together with “something rather more robust” than “consent”. The assertion has prompted accusations from pro-independence parties that the Conservatives have abandoned all pretences of adhering to the principles of democracy.

Tomkins, a law professor at the University of Glasgow, cited the example of Spain, where courts ruled it was unlawful for Catalonia to hold a vote on independence. The Madrid crackdown involved police brutality against peaceful voters and the imprisonment of pro-independence leaders over charges of sedition.

Yet the Tory MSP pointed to the Spanish example as potential inspiration for the UK Government in its attempts to quell demands for a Scottish plebiscite.

He wrote: “For the last century the United Kingdom has regarded itself as a voluntary union of four home nations. Consent, rather than the force of law, has been the glue that has held us together. This is not normal. Most countries hold themselves together with something rather more robust.

“In Spain, the courts, applying the constitution, ruled that it was unlawful for Catalan separatists even to hold a vote on Catalan independence.”

Tomkins also highlighted "even stricter" rules in the US, where the government decrees to states that there is "no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution or with the consent of the United States".

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Recognising that previous referendums on Scottish devolution and the UK's European membership have been repeated, Tomkins stated "no-one should say 'never'" to indyref2. He added: "But giving legal clarity to the 'not now' arguments the UK Government will have no choice but to run if the nationalists win another Holyrood majority next month deserves serious consideration."

The law professor argued the best solution is to rip up the terms of the Union. He wrote: “The UK needs a new Act of Union to set out, authoritatively, the rare circumstances in which one part of the country can seek lawfully to secede.

"As well as defining how frequently referendums on such a matter may be held, the law could at the same time impose obligations on governments and public bodies throughout the land to act with fidelity towards — and not to undermine — the territorial integrity of the country.”

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The outgoing Tory MSP, who will step down from his Glasgow seat at May’s election, concluded: “Nationalists will howl with rage at this proposal. In response to them I would just gently point out that their beloved EU includes within its treaties a like provision: ‘Member states shall facilitate the achievement of the Union’s tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union’s objectives.'

"Time to copy and paste this idea from the EU’s rulebook into our own: ‘Devolved administrations shall facilitate the achievement of the UK’s tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the UK’s objectives’.

"What Europhile nationalist could object to that?”

The Scottish Greens said Tomkins’s comments will only increase support for a Yes vote.

It comes after Douglas Ross repeatedly refused to accept that a democratic route to independence is open to Scots.

Co-leader Patrick Harvie told The National: "Adam Tomkins has clearly decided to use the final days of his underwhelming term as an MSP to keep digging the Tories even deeper into the hole they're in.

“Douglas Ross is already unable to answer basic questions about how people in Scotland can have their democratic wishes respected, and now here's Adam to say the quiet bit out loud – that the Union shouldn't even pretend to be based on consent.

“Honestly, if the Tories want to be sure of pushing more and more people to back independence, the answer is clear – just let Adam and Douglas keep talking!"

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon slams 'arrogant' Douglas Ross over indyref2 claim

SNP depute leader Keith Brown added that the column dismantles any claims that the UK is an equal partnership.

He commented: "This is a sign of utter desperation from the Tories. They know that the Union must be based on consent or it ceases to be a union worthy of the name.

"They're not even pretending anymore that the UK is a partnership of equals, but the people of Scotland are sovereign and they are the ones who will decide the country's future, not Adam Tomkins, Boris Johnson or any other Tory politician.”

The Scottish Conservatives have been approached for comment.