THE Scottish independence movement is anti-English and the SNP is bent on fostering English nationalism to secure the break-up of the UK, according to a former Conservative Cabinet minister.

John Redwood's remarks last night drew a furious response from First Minister Alex Salmond, who described them as "spectacularly ill-informed and ill-judged".

Mr Redwood insisted English nationalism was now the "new force in UK politics".

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He argued that, if the First Minister failed in his bid for independence but instead secured devo-max for Scotland, England should have its own devo-max.

Writing in his blog, he

argued the SNP "enjoys using the EU against England".

He said: "It all helps to antagonise the England they wish to leave in a way, which might help the change they want."

Mr Redwood said one of the ironies of the independence movement was it was a "dependence movement, wishing to shift Scotland to Brussels control directly". He added: "It is an anti-English movement more than it is an independence movement."

The backbencher said he was happy independence was a matter for Scots but only on the understanding that, should they decide to stay in the Union, there must be a new deal for England.

"If Scotland seeks devo-max, and the Government is prepared to offer it ... we must insist on devo-max for England," he said.

He called for a new relationship with the EU, saying it "fits ill with English nationalism ... the new force in UK politics, which the SNP is fostering".

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said: "These are spectacularly ill-informed and ill-judged comments, which are plain wrong."

He said Scots independence would be good for Scotland and England, creating a new relationship of equality and friendship.

He added: "That is the positive message the First Minister has taken to people in England in a series of speeches, which have received an extremely enthusiastic response."