THE challenges posed by the English border if an independent Scotland joins the EU should not be downplayed, academics have said.

The UK in a Changing Europe think tank has published an extensive paper examining the issue of borders after Scottish independence.

It says some of the cross-border arrangements envisaged in the 2014 referendum will not be possible due to Brexit, as a new land border between the EU and the rest of the UK would be created.

Authors said any future prospectus for independence must confront the challenges of Brexit in order to ensure an informed debate.

The report was written by Professor Nicola McEwen of Edinburgh University and Professor Katy Hayward of Queen’s University Belfast.

While Scotland would likely remain in the Common Travel Area, they said a deal similar to the Northern Ireland Protocol would be unlikely.

Prof McEwen said the report makes a number of assumptions – that Scotland holds an independence referendum, votes Yes, and negotiates to leave the UK and join the EU.

The report says the main trunk roads between England and Scotland would need some form of border control and inspection facilities, likely with “red” or “green” lanes for vehicles with goods to declare or not.

While Scottish goods would be opened up to the EU single market, trade with the continent would not be entirely “frictionless” due to goods having to travel through England.

During an online panel discussion of the report on Thursday, Prof McEwen said people living in Scotland’s southern communities would need to be offered reassurance and support on the implications of the new international border.

She said: “I think there is downplaying on the part of the SNP about the significance of the border challenge.

“In some ways it’s not a problem of their making, it’s not a problem that they wanted – because they’d much rather the rest of the UK at the time of independence was also within the EU or in the single market.

“But nonetheless it is a problem that would have to be faced.”

Brexit shows the importance of preparing for these challenges, she said.

Prof Hayward said events in Northern Irish politics underline the gravity of issues created by borders.

She spoke as Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan was expected to resign due to the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Prof Hayward said: “If there’s one thing that the events in Northern Ireland over the past 24 hours tell us, it’s that confusion about the purpose, nature and responsibility for border checks and controls can lead to all sorts of troubles down the line.

“Our report is a small contribution towards avoiding such trouble in such an eventuality as an independent Scotland rejoining the EU.”

The report from the two academics concludes that any future prospectus for independence should address the management of borders.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced the Scottish Government’s work on a “detailed prospectus” for independence is resuming, and last week it was revealed a team of 11 civil servants had started work on the blueprint.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This report shows that Scotland can be a member of the European single market – which by population is around seven times the size of the UK. The report also argues that Scotland’s citizens would be likely to continue to be able to enjoy freedom of movement across the UK and Ireland.

“Brexit has created new trade borders with 31 countries outside the UK, as well as a border with Northern Ireland.

“Compared with EU membership, Brexit makes Scotland poorer, and the end of freedom of movement will continue to harm our population, workforce and economy. If Scotland was an independent member of the EU, which this government believes is its best future, it would see an end to those borders and the damage caused by Brexit.

“The report says any future independence prospectus must meet the challenge ‘that Brexit has presented’ – including border arrangements. The Scottish Government will do so, as we renew the case put before the people in 2014.”