RORY Stewart said it is “insane” to think of England and Scotland as different countries while discussing Scottish nationalism on his podcast with Alastair Campbell.

Stewart said that the Scottish Borders and Cumbria had so much in common that it would be “insane” to think of them as separate on his The Rest is Politics show.

The former Tory minister said: “I felt, obviously, in Cumbria that there was so much in common between Cumbria and the Scottish Borders. It was ridiculous to suggest that somehow these were different countries.

"I’ve been in countries which are different countries. Basically, we spoke the same language, we shopped in the same supermarkets, watched the same television and we listen to the same music. It’s insane!”

Stewart spoke of his own Scottish roots and that his father was “a man for tartan trousers, bagpipes, the whole lot” and that he thought it was “fun being Scottish because it was a way of irritating the English”.

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Stewart was generally critical of Scottish nationalism, suggesting that it was similar to Brexit and reduced it to Scotland separating itself from other people.

He said: “Problem with nationalisms of any sort, whether it is Brexit nationalism or Scottish nationalism, it’s always reductive. Always separating yourself from someone else. It’s always blaming someone else for your problems and fantasising that if you just get rid of another bunch of people everything’s going to be fine if you just draw up a border.

“I think it’s psychologically dangerous.”

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Responding to Stewart’s analysis, Michael Russell, president of the SNP, said: “Rory comes out with this sort of thing every so often and they are useful reminders that despite the nice guy image he tries to cultivate he is every inch an anti-democratic Tory.  

“His understanding of the SNP and indeed modern countries and borders is also as old-fashioned and reactionary as his language. He has nothing to offer Scotland which explains why he has never been elected to anything here and has preferred to pursue a political career south of the Border.”

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Rory Stewart is a former Tory MP who served as International Development Secretary under Theresa May. In the aftermath of May's resignation, Stewart took part in the 2019 Conservative leadership contestant, losing out to Boris Johnson.

Following his defeat, Stewart resigned from his ministerial post after Johnson became Tory leader as he felt he could not serve under his fellow old Etonian.

No longer an MP, Stewart has been fiercely critical of Boris Johnson's leadership.  

Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer said: “Scottish independence is about a desire to take responsibility for our own affairs, not to blame anyone else. It is an internationalist project, completely incomparable to the isolationism of Brexit, or to Rory Stewart’s brand of British nationalism."

"Of course communities across Scotland and England have much in common. That’s also true of communities in Ireland, Sweden, Germany and everywhere else across our continent and planet, which is precisely why we want to achieve our independence and start playing a far more constructive and collaborative role in the world than Westminster has on our behalf.”