THE former head of Scotland's economic development agency has warned that the prospect of a new independence referendum is damaging the country.

Jack Perry, who led Scottish Enterprise for five years before stepping down in 2009, said that Brexit presented more opportunities than dangers and called on the Scottish Government to make the best of EU withdrawal.

He said that talk of a second independence referendum, which Nicola Sturgeon says she is "highly likely" to call after 62 per cent north of the border voted Remain in June, is contributing to uncertainty and harming business.

Mr Perry, speaking at an event organised by the pro-UK Scotland in Union campaign group, said: "As we have seen from the Scottish Government's own figures, there is no economic case for independence and the projected deficit means we would have to dramatically raise taxes and cut public spending.

"The people I speak to in business are sick and tired of constitutional uncertainty – the last thing we need after the Brexit vote is another referendum on Scottish independence.

"I believe Brexit presents more opportunities than threats but rather than seek to exploit these we have a Scottish Government using it to nurse a grievance.

"We have seen from the example of Quebec what this endless uncertainty can do for jobs and investment. It’s not helpful and Scotland must move on. The Scottish Government should be using the new devolved and existing economic levers to grow the Scottish economy."

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said that Brexit was "far and away" the biggest threat to Scotland's economy, jobs and long-term prosperity.

He added: "Analysis shows that the potential cost of leaving the European Union to the Scottish economy is up to £11.2 billion per year by 2030. And the independent Fraser of Allander Institute has forecast that Brexit could cost Scotland up to 80,000 jobs over the next decade.

"This government has delivered major savings for businesses through the Small Business Bonus, which in total has saved firms more than £1 billion, and which we are now extending to lift around 100,000 businesses out of paying rates altogether. We have also responded quickly to the EU vote, announcing a £500 million package of financial support for private sector business investment as well as £100 million of accelerated capital spending.

"The fundamentals of Scotland’s economy remain strong, with GDP continuing to grow over the past year and 65,000 more people in employment compared to the pre-recession high."