UNIONISTS have hit out at the planned launch of a new Scottish independence paper this week, with the Tories calling it a “blatant misuse of public money”.

The fifth of the Scottish Government’s independence prospectus papers, to be published on Thursday, will set out details on who would be eligible to become a Scottish citizen following independence.

It will outline who will automatically qualify and the pathway for others to apply, while it will lay out proposals for a Scottish passport and the provision of consular assistance for Scottish citizens travelling, living or working abroad.

Migrants’ rights, freedom of movement, and fairer fees to apply for citizenship are also expected to be discussed within the paper.

But the Scottish Tories are furious over the upcoming release of the paper, branding it “utterly unacceptable”.

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Alexander Stewart, the party’s deputy spokesperson for the constitution, said: “These independence plans are a blatant misuse of public money and resources.

“The SNP are constantly blurring the lines between party and government.

“It is utterly unacceptable for the SNP to be wasting taxpayers’ money and civil servants’ time on pushing a divisive party political agenda which the Scottish Government lacks the authority to pursue unilaterally.

“This is the wrong priority at the worst time, when Humza Yousaf and his ministers should be concentrating on unacceptable NHS waiting times and the cost of living crisis.”

Tory MSP Stephen Kerr insisted on Twitter that the paper would be “utterly useless”.

Earlier this month it was confirmed the Tory UK Government is investigating Scottish Government spending on independence planning.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, to whom the top civil servants in Scotland and Wales ultimately answer, said it would be “a bit worrying” if UK taxpayer money were to be spent on efforts for Scottish independence.

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The results of the probe are set to be announced “within weeks”.

In May, Scotland’s most senior official John-Paul Marks defended the involvement of the civil service in drawing up the prospectus after UK Government ministers questioned the “constitutional propriety” of his team taking orders from Independence Minister Jamie Hepburn.

Former Labour MP Pamela Nash, who is now chief executive of Scotland in Union, claimed the paper was a “fantasy document”.

She said: “Taxpayers will find it galling that the SNP is forcing them to bankroll another fantasy document.

“There are so many other matters the Scottish Government should be focusing on. But while health, education and the economy are neglected, independence retains ministers’ full attention. It’s time for people’s priorities, not the SNP’s.”

The paper will be launched by Hepburn alongside the First Minister.