TONY Blair has been criticised after claiming Scotland not being independent shows devolution has been successful.

The former prime minister – who legislated for a Scottish Parliament after the 1997 referendum – told Holyrood magazine devolution had “worked” because it had by “design” stopped Scotland from leaving the UK.

But SNP General Election candidate Stephen Gethins said his comments are “out of date” with Brexit having exposed many weaknesses in the devolution settlement.

SNP depute leader Keith Brown, meanwhile, said Scottish Labour would be “mortified” Blair had stuck his nose into the campaign as he expressed confidence support for independence would continue to rise under a Keir Starmer UK government.

Lord Robertson – whom Blair appointed shadow Scottish secretary in 1995 – said devolution would “kill nationalism stone dead” but support for Scottish independence sits solidly at around 50% in most opinion polls.

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In April, Scotland’s top civil servant John Paul-Marks said the Internal Market Act had changed the nature of devolution and accused the UK Government of repeatedly breaching the Sewel Convention which dictates that Westminster does not legislate in devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

Since 2018, Paul-Marks said there had been 11 occasions the convention had not been followed.

Blair told Holyrood Magazine: “I do reflect on devolution a lot, and occasionally do think what should we or could we have done differently but, on the whole, I’m still of the same opinion as I was back then, which is that devolution had to happen, otherwise you’d leave Scottish people with the choice of status quo or independence, and Scotland is still part of the UK, which was part of the design – so devolution has worked, as far as I am concerned.”

He later questioned whether people in Scotland would want to “gamble” with independence given the “huge mess” of Brexit, something his party has said it is committed to.

Gethins (above), who was the SNP’s Europe spokesperson when he was an MP between 2015 and 2019,  blasted the comparison.

He told The National: “Tony Blair’s comments are somewhat out of date. Brexit underscored the weakness of the devolution settlement.

“Also, he is forgetting that the challenge with Brexit was that the Tories couldn’t agree amongst themselves what kind of Brexit could be pursued, whereas there are 27 models of how you can be an independent state within the EU working in equal partnership with other countries successfully. There is only one model of Brexit, which has been a failure.

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“Despite that failure, Tony Blair’s colleagues in the Labour Party want to stick with a hard Tory Brexit. I’m not sure which part of a hard Tory Brexit the Labour Party think has been working effectively.

“Most people in Scotland, the UK and the rest of Europe can see through the failure of Brexit as it is and the only party providing an alternative to a hard, Tory Brexit is the SNP.”

If the SNP win a majority of seats in Scotland in the July 4 election, it will seek to give “democratic effect” to the desire for independence, which First Minister John Swinney said last week would mean seeking another referendum.

Brown said: “Labour in Scotland will be mortified that Tony Blair, the architect of the Iraq War and NHS privatisation, has reared his head in the middle of an election campaign.

“The most recent opinion polls put independence slightly ahead or slightly behind support for continued Westminster control - and with Labour refusing to reverse some of the most damaging Tory policies such as austerity, Brexit and cuts to child benefits - it will no doubt continue to rise under a Keir Starmer government.”

Green MSP Maggie Chapman said while devolution had had its positives for Scotland, there were huge issues that needed to be addressed such the "undemocratic" Section 35 order Scottish Secretary Alister Jack was able to use to block gender reform laws.

She also argued the limits of devolution being exposed were a big reason behind growth in independence support since Blair left Downing Street.

She said: “Devolution wasn’t handed down by Tony Blair out of the goodness of his heart. It was hard won by decades of campaigning by people in communities across Scotland.

“For all that we have gained, there are also really big structural issues that urgently need to be addressed: the undemocratic Section 35 Order that allows our parliament to be overruled by a single person, the lack of real powers in so many key areas, such as the economy, energy and employment, and the fact that we have such limited powers over how it raises money and spends it.

"“Support for independence today is far greater than it was when Tony Blair entered Downing Street. That is largely because people have seen and experienced these severe limitations and because they know that under devolution there is only so much that our Parliament can do to stop the chaos that has come from Westminster."