RENOWNED historian Mary Beard has pleaded with Scots not to leave the UK and to stay and "help out" their "basket case" neighbour. 

In an interview with The Herald, the famous author and classics professor at Cambridge revealed her position on the constitution had not changed since 2014, when she signed an open letter calling on Scots to vote No.

But Beard added that she could understand why Scots may want to vote for independence in the wake of Britain's exit from the EU.

She said: “Now, could I stand up to my Scottish friends and say that? I’m not sure. I had to say to myself after Brexit that although I still wanted [the Union to continue] I could see why an awful lot of people didn’t.

“I think ‘please don’t go, Scotland, don’t leave us for God’s sake, we need you, think of us as a bit of a basket case you can help out’.

"But after Brexit, and some of the politics of the years since Brexit, I have to say, if someone in Scotland said they wanted to leave, I’d say, ‘I can see why. I still don’t want you to go but I see why’."

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In the wide-ranging interview, Beard also said she did not believe “most people” are transphobic.

She said: “There may be, and I’m sure there are, some transphobes, trans-haters, out there, but most people I think aren’t in that category.

"Many of them are puzzled, worried, about where this leaves cis women.

“Those are utterly reasonable questions that we ought to be able to raise, but that’s proved impossible, and I’m not clear why … I want to explore what’s preventing us managing to have a conversation about this.”