FORMER solicitor and new SNP MP for Dumfries and Galloway Richard Arkless is determined not to become a “one trick independence pony” and has set his sights firmly on selling his constituency to the rest of the world.

The 39-year-old, who graduated in financial services from Glasgow Caledonian University and then went on to gain an LLB in law at Strathclyde University with a diploma in legal practice, has vowed to “think outside the box”.

Stranraer-born Arkless, who was raised in east London before his family returned to Dumfries and Galloway and bought a small hotel called Arkhouse Inn, revealed that before he sat himself down and worked out the figures in 2007 he truly believed that independence was a “ludicrous idea”.

The father-of-two said: “I have made no secret about the fact that I voted ‘no’ to devolution in the 1990s. I used to think that Scotland taking its own decisions was a ludicrous idea.

“Back then I voted for everybody. I’ve voted for every political party in the past and I made my decision around the issues that were important to me at that time. That all changed in 2007 when the SNP was sworn in as a minority government. It became clear to me after a year they were doing a pretty good job and that maybe these Nationalists weren’t as radical as I first thought.

“I thought I needed to give the question more serious consideration because I was indoctrinated by the three-pronged dependency of too weak, too poor, too silly.

“Once I went through my law degree I began to realise that of course we’re not too silly and we were just as capable as everybody else but the thing that really changed my mind, bearing in mind economics has always been the thing I based my decisions on, were the figures.

“I sad down around 2011 when SNP got the majority and I was almost there. I was becoming very sympathetic to the idea and at the time I was living in Manchester. I began to really research the figures – the GDP and tax-take – and I was completely and utterly astonished. I couldn’t believe that Scotland had a higher per capita GDP, and much higher per capita tax-take over each of the last 35 years. I was flabbergasted and asked myself why I had believed completely the opposite all my life without every trying to make it evidence-based.

“I wouldn’t consider myself a typical Nationalist and it is not a patriotic argument for me, it is an economic one because what we can do with those resources if we control them closer to where those resources are based, is absolutely limitless.”