EUROPE should do “whatever it takes” to help Scotland to become independent and rejoin the EU – including offering financial support, campaigners have argued.

Campaign group Europe For Scotland said the EU should no longer treat Scottish independence as an “internal question” for the UK following Brexit.

The call has been made by Anthony Barnett (below), co-founder of the group which aims to encourage solidarity for Scotland to get back into the EU.

He said the group’s work included recruiting ambassadors and lobbying Brussels to say that Scotland should not have to go through the usual accession process to rejoin the EU.

However, he said the voices of more Scots independence supporters were needed to join in to add pressure on Europe to act.

The National:

“What I find talking with fellow Europeans, is they say well let’s hear it from the Scots, do they want this?,” he said.

“They say ‘I am willing to offer them solidarity but I can’t hear them’.

“If the Scots are sitting there saying it is not practical, so I am not going to say anything, then you are creating the conditions of your own enslavement.”

Barnett, an influential English writer who founded global website openDemocracy, wrote an introduction for Tom Nairn’s classic text The Break-up Of Britain, first published in 1977, which depicts the “slow foundering” of the United Kingdom.

He told the Sunday National that this break-up would “certainly happen in the next 30 years” – but argued Scottish independence need not be rushed.

“I think it is quite important to separate the need for independence from the everyday issues of Westminster versus Holyrood and Boris Johnson versus Nicola Sturgeon,” he said.

“I think the independence referendum is coming, that it will be won, but it needs to be held in its own good time.”

But he added: “What I think is really important is the European Union should say now in advance we want Scotland to be part of the European Union.

“[It should say] we think it is an outrage that a country that has been part of the European Union for 47 years should be taken out against its will and we will have it back.”

Barnett suggested Europe should offer Scotland access to its €750 billion Covid recovery fund and support to “cover the costs of separating from England” and for the “creation of a new Scottish currency”.

“[It should say] it will do whatever it takes so that independence becomes a practical realistic route of rejoining the European Union as a free country. That should be the choice,” he said.

“What Europe For Scotland is saying is we have to persuade the European Union not to treat independence as an internal question of the British Isles. Now that Britain has left it is an external question which it can address in advance.

“With Brexit the European Union passed a motion formally saying if Northern Ireland wishes to unite with the South it will immediately become part of the European Union.

“It should now do the same for Scotland. It remains a free choice for the Scottish people, but they should know before they make the choice that they are going to be supported in such an outcome.”

Barnett, who was visiting Scotland to promote his new book Taking Control: Humanity And America After Trump And The Pandemic, said Europe For Scotland now has 14,000 members and 50 ambassadors working in countries such as France, Germany and Italy.

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But he said more pressure was needed to urge European leaders to say Scotland will not have to go through the same accession process.

He argued: “Scotland should be treated as different – it is not Macedonia. It has been a member [of the EU] for 47 years. Nobody else is in that position, taken out against its will. So it is a reasonable argument for being treated exceptionally.”

Barnett said the position of Europe on allowing Scotland to rejoin had to spelled out before the next independence referendum.

“The problem is if you have a referendum without that, the Anglo-British, including on the left, will be incredibly threatening,” he said.

“They will threaten tremendous economic consequences of the border, they will threaten economically, they will tell you that the European Union will screw you.

“If the European Union says nothing people in Scotland will say ‘well maybe that’s true. Is is true, it is not true? What a risk to take with my job, my livelihood’.”

He called for independence supporters to “take the initiative” and urge Europe to set out its position.

“I think the independence movement is too important to be left to Nicola Sturgeon,” he added.

“It shouldn’t be left to the SNP and we need to hear the demand and desire for independence within Europe from within Scotland.”

Barnett said Scottish independence was a “historic choice” and should not be put off – but neither should supporters be “impatient”.

“Don’t look at it through the eyes of London, which in a way serves to subordinate Scotland to undermine independence as a mindset, if you think it is just about leaving the Westminster regime,” he said.

“It is also about becoming yourselves inside a European framework and you should be looking to Europe as the framework for becoming independent.”