A CROSS-PARTY campaign to take up where the referendum left off has been launched under the umbrella of the Campaign For Scottish Home Rule, pledging a "meaningful and sustainable" settlement.

For founder Ben Thomson it was about pushing the stage beyond the next Westminster response to the Smith Commission, but for some present yesterday it represented a much more unusual coming together.

Launched on the back of the independence referendum, the Scottish Home Rule campaign has managed to bring together supporters as diverse as former SNP leading light Andrew Wilson and senior ex-Tory MSP Derek Brownlee.

The initiative is the idea of merchant banker Mr Thomson, who is behind the Reform Scotland think-tank and its offshoot Devo Plus. It is urging that any new ­settlement emerging from the Smith Commission be based on sound first principles rather than a political fix by politicians tinkering with devolved powers.

Former Liberal Democrat MSP Margaret Smith and former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish are not so far apart as the argument moves towards a more federal settlement for the UK, and others on the 12-strong board of the new campaign are drawn from business, academia and sport.

But nothing marks this campaign out as different quite like having former Tory and SNP high-fliers giving their ­enthusiastic endorsement. Mr Thomson explained this was because his latest vehicle takes sound principles as a starting point and then allows anyone with firm views beyond these to retain their vision of an ultimate goal, whether that be a new UK or an independent Scotland.

Mr McLeish pointed out that "home rule" as a term was used by Labour founding father Keir Hardie in 1896 and by Liberals in 1913, but that in his view the key to its 21st-century significance was mutual respect between Westminster and Holyrood, entrenchment of the Scottish Parliament in its own right, and a "credible, sustainable, enduring and attractive" set of powers.

Speaking of the formation of the campaign, he said: "This is about the Scottish people retaining ownership of the debate and these issues post-referendum."

Mr Brownlee was one of the most highly regarded Tory MSPs during his time in Holyrood and he admitted yesterday that he had made a point of not consulting his former colleagues before joining the board of the campaign, saying he did not want to seek their endorsement or put any of them under pressure to join with him. That latter was seen as a reference to Murdo Fraser, who did back the Devo Plus project.

Mr Brownlee added: "If we want to avoid endless discussion of the constitution, and to focus on the other political issues that matter, we have to find common ground and build a genuine constitutional settlement that lasts."

Mr Wilson was also happy to sign up, even though the end point of the campaign was not independence. "The whole country needs to come together and secure the highest common denominator that will unify the vast majority of us that want progress and a much more responsible Parliament," he said.

"The twin goals of economic prosperity and social fairness must be pursued with the same passion and vitality that drove the referendum. This is a journey without end, but we must move at a pace that builds deep and wide foundations of support. It is time to build a bridge between the '45' and the '55', not dig a trench."

The steering group is chaired by Mr Thomson, who is also the Reform Scotland chairman. The other members are Matthew Benson, Hamira Khan, James MacKenzie, John Dunsmore and Richard Kerley.