US Senator Bernie Sanders has weighed in on whether or not Scotland should be allowed to hold an independence referendum.

The Democratic representative is currently visiting the UK and made the comments on Sky News's Sophy Ridge on Sunday Programme. 

In 2020, Sanders's older brother Larry, a Green Party activist in the UK, said he would be "favourable" to Scottish independence if he became US President.  

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It comes as Sanders said Labour's plans for the NHS in the UK made him "nervous". 

The National contacted the UK Government to ask if they had any comment to make on the Senator's statement, to which they said the Scottish people want "both governments" to concentrate on issues most important to them. 

On Sky News, Sanders was asked what his "gut" feeling was on the Scottish independence debate and aired his views on the topic for the first time.

He said: "Look, I am not an expert on UK politics. 

"I very much appreciate what the people of Scotland have done, what they're fighting for, and my initial thought, not being an expert, if they want to go their own way they should be allowed to."

Asked if he thought that Scotland should "at least have the opportunity" to hold a referendum, Sanders said: "It would seem to me...don't tell anybody I said that."

Later on the programme, SNP leadership contender Humza Yousaf was asked if he would want Sanders on the Scottish independence campaign team.

He replied: "I’d love to have Bernie Sanders on the campaign, but actually Bernie gets it. It should be for the people of Scotland to decide. 

"That’s not just Bernie Sanders’ view, if you wanted to come a little bit closer to home, I’ve heard Mark Drakeford who is a Labour Welsh politician, who doesn’t believe in independence, but has said, very unequivocally, that it should be up to the people to decide."

US politicians have been historically reluctant to weigh in on the Scottish independence debate.

However, former President Obama famously expressed a pro-Union view in 2014. 

Obama said at the time: "The United Kingdom has been an extraordinary partner to us. From the outside at least, it looks like things have worked pretty well.

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"And we obviously have a deep interest in making sure that one of the closest allies we will ever have remains a strong, robust, united and effective partner.

"But ultimately these are decisions that are to be made by the folks there."

The Senator warned the UK that following the US on healthcare is the "wrong direction" and that the creation of the NHS was "revolutionary". 

He said: "What you said at that point in the formation of the NHS, health care is a human right.

The National: Sanders said Labour's plans for the NHS make him 'nervous'Sanders said Labour's plans for the NHS make him 'nervous'

"Whether you're rich or poor you have a right to go to a doctor and not take out your wallet.

"In the United States, the function of health care in America is not to provide quality care to all, it's to make billions for the insurance companies.

"So strengthen the NHS, need more money, put money into it, but don't go the American route. We're trying to get out of that."

Ridge pointed out that one of the ways Labour is looking at helping the NHS is through more partnerships with the private sector.

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Sanders said: "I would be nervous about that. I don't know all the details, but it sounds to me like the wrong direction."

He added: "The function of the private sector is not to provide quality care.

"The function of healthcare is not complicated. Everybody should be entitled to the best care the system can provide, not to have a system in which insurance companies make huge amounts of money."

The National asked the UK Government if they had any response to what Sanders had said in support of Scottish independence. 

A UK Government spokesperson said: "People in Scotland want both their governments to be concentrating on the issues that matter most to them - like growing our economy, getting people the help they need with their energy bills, and supporting our NHS.

"As the Prime Minister has been clear, we will continue to work constructively with the Scottish Government to tackle our shared challenges."