The UK risks becoming a “failed state” unless it prioritises reforms to the Union, former prime minister Gordon Brown has warned.
The former Labour leader also called on the Prime Minister to set up a commission on democracy which would review how the UK is governed.
It comes after the Sunday Times published the results of opinion polls in the four nations of the UK, which found a majority of voters think Scotland is likely to be independent in the next 10 years.
In Scotland, the poll found that 49 per cent backed independence compared with 44 per cent against – a margin of 52 per cent to 48 per cent if the undecideds are excluded.
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Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Brown said “the choice is now between a reformed state and a failed state”.
He added: “It is indeed Scotland where dissatisfaction is so deep that it threatens the end of the United Kingdom.
“For the first time, a majority of Scots now feel, according to recent polls, that Scotland and the rest of the UK are moving inexorably in opposite directions and nearly half of all Scots who have a view believe – against all the evidence – that Scotland would be better off economically independent, and they feel that the Union undermines Scotland’s distinctive identity.
“While the crisis is deepest in Scotland, it is far from alone.
“Regional metro mayors – from Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool to Sheffield, Bristol and London – are demanding more powers from what they see as an insensitive, out-of-touch and overcentralised centre.”
Mr Brown also said the Prime Minister should use the armed forces and the NHS to demonstrate the “everyday benefits” of the Union.
A Cabinet spokesman said the public in Scotland want to see the UK’s politicians “working in partnership to focus on defeating coronavirus”.
“That remains the top priority of the UK Government, which has supported jobs and businesses across all four nations throughout the pandemic,” he added.
“The question of Scottish independence was settled decisively in 2014, when Scotland voted to remain part of the UK.
“Now, more than ever, we should be pulling together to strengthen our United Kingdom, instead of trying to separate it”.
The Sunday Times poll found that, in Northern Ireland, 47 per cent still want to remain in the UK, with 42 per cent in favour of a united Ireland and a significant proportion – 11 per cent – undecided.
However, asked if they supported a referendum on a United Ireland within the next five years, 51 per cent said yes compared with 44 per cent who were against.
In Wales, where support for independence is traditionally weakest, 23 per cent still backed leaving the UK while 31 per cent supported a referendum.
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