Gordon Brown backed by Tories over plan to save UK from Sturgeon’s independence plot

Scotland and UK ‘economies are meshed’ says expert

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The former Labour Prime Minister launched a campaign calling on “middle Scotland” to vote for the UK in any independence referendum, and also suggested Boris Johnson should launch a new body to collaborate on regional areas with First Ministers and mayors. The project has won the backing on former Conservative party leaders and current Tory officials.

Mr Brown proposed to turn his think tank ‘Our Scottish Future’ into a body attempting to convince “not yet nationalist” voters of the benefits of remaining in the union.

He also insisted Prime Minister Boris Johnson established a “permanent forum” to strengthen the UK.

The former Prime Minister said: “The leaders have got to be discussing the issues they have in common.

“You can’t just rely on a few phone calls and ad hoc conversations when things get difficult.”

Andy Street, Tory mayor of West Midlands, backed the former Labour Prime Minister’s proposals.

He told Times Radio: “He’s right. If you look at the West Midlands economy it’s far bigger than Wales, substantially bigger than Northern Ireland, almost as big as Scotland.

“But for reasons I understand the concentration has been on the devolved nations.

“But actually for all of the UK to thrive we need regions like mine to come together and think what is the economic future there.”

William Hague, former Tory leader, also threw his support behind the rival party proposal.

Writing for the Times, he said the plans for a permanent forum to hand the UK nations and regions more influence “merits serious consideration”.

Mr Brown also said in the Times that Red Box mayors of Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester back the plans.

The Times also carried out a poll which shows more Scots would support change within the UK, 42 percent, than change by leaving the UK, 36 percent.

It comes after the current Prime Minister told the Commons that the Union has “seldom proved its worth more emphatically” than during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “Everything we do will be done as one United Kingdom, combining the genius of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“The United Kingdom – the fifth biggest economy in the world – had the power to invest over £407 billion to protect jobs and livelihoods and businesses everywhere in these islands, including one in three jobs in Scotland safeguarded by the combined resources of Her Majesty’s Treasury under the Chancellor.”

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, also warned there was a clear mandate for a new referendum and added: “It’s the people of Scotland and our Parliament that will determine when that independence referendum will take place.”

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