BROADCASTER Jeremy Paxman has said he would vote for Scottish independence in a second referendum.

The BBC's University Challenge host and former Newsnight presenter gave his views in a wide-ranging interview today to mark the publication of a book he has written on the coal industry, Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain.

He made the comments after being asked if he had any reflections on an ongoing debate on English identity. 

“I don’t think it’s a helpful thing to have long discussions about it,” he said.

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“It’s rather like John Major’s warm beer and old maids cycling to Communion. Of course it’s all those things, but it’s lots of other things too. And there is Englishness and there is the Union, of course. 

"My view about the Union is that if there is to be a referendum then the English should be allowed a vote as well. We are supposedly a nation of equals, so we should be equally entitled to a vote. 

"And although I am a quarter Scottish I would vote to separate, I think. Because I can’t see what is gained by persistently giving the Jocks an excuse. We’re always going to be friends.”

During the interview with Church of England clergyman Reverend Richard Coles, which was published in the Sunday Times today, Paxman also reflected on his diagnosis with Parkinson's earlier this year.

Paxman’s Scottish roots were unearthed when he took part in the BBC genealogy series, Who Do You Think You Are in 2006. His great grandmother was Mary Mackay, a charwoman who lived in Glasgow. Paxman wept on learning she had died from TB and exhaustion.

"Thousands, hundreds of thousands of people must have lived like this and died like this, and I suppose when it's just numbers like that it doesn't really mean anything, but it means something when . . . I don't know these people; I wouldn't recognise them if I fell over them, but you know I'm connected to them," he said at the time.

In the newspaper interview today, he also gave a scathing verdict on former Tory PM David Cameron in light of him holding the Brexit referendum and then immediately resigning after the vote, described Johnson as a "charlatan" but said he had a higher opinion of Michael Gove.

The National:

Paxman has a dim view of former PM David Cameron.

Asked what he thought of Cameron, he said: “Not much. To call a referendum, then to flounce off the morning after people had voted . . . ‘I dropped the country into this mess and now I’m buggering off to make some more money’?

"I have a lot of time for Govey but he has perhaps an unfortunate manner. He’s not a pin-up, he’s not a star. But stars always let you down.”

He added: “What’s wrong with Boris? I don’t understand why people feel so strongly about him. I think he’s a charlatan.”

Paxman made the comments seven years after the independence referendum on September 18, 2021 which the no side won by 55% to 45%.

Nicola Sturgeon has told MSPs she plans to hold a second referendum by the end of 2023 if the coronavirus pandemic has passed.

The SNP won a record fourth term in government in Edinburgh in May after standing on a manifesto committee to hold a new referendum in the new parliamentary term.

But Boris Johnson will not agree to a new vote and at the beginning of the year ruled out indyref2 until 2055.

In June his government dismissed a proposal by senior Tories to agree to referendum on the condition that Scots living in the rest of the UK can vote too.

Some in the Cabinet minister wanted the Prime Minister to agree to the move as they thought it would increase the chances of a no vote.

At the time of the proposal being made the First Minister said it would "rig the vote".

However, she added that it suggested the UK Government were conceding the referendum should take place.

Sturgeon tweeted: "I see the anti independence campaign is trying to rig the rules of indyref2 again (tho in doing so they also concede that it’s going to happen). Maybe they should just argue their case on its merits and allow everyone who lives in Scotland to decide democracy."

Asked by The National at the time if ministers would agree to a new vote so long as the franchise was extended to Scots living elsewhere in the UK, a UK government spokeswoman said: "The sole priority of the UK Government is on continuing to roll out the UK’s life-saving vaccine programme and recovering from this health and economic emergency. 

"It is our duty and our responsibility to focus entirely on Covid recovery. That is what people in Scotland, rightly, expect."

The intervention reflected a wider debate within the Tories about how best to combat independence.

Some figures including former Chancellor George Osborne have advised that the best policy for the PM is to simply say "no" to a new vote.

Johnson's position has been to refuse a new referendum but has come under pressure from some in his Cabinet to do more to advance the case for the Union amid fears continually rejecting a new referendum will in itself cause a backlash and lead to increased support for independence.