A NEW pro-Union thinktank is being launched by the TV historians who persuaded Sir Mick Jagger and 200 other celebrities to “love bomb” Scotland in 2014.

These Islands Ltd was incorporated in February by businessman and blogger Kevin Hague, who runs the Livingston-based M8 Group.

The three other subscribers to the company were historian Tom Holland and St Andrews University history professors Ali Ansari and Colin Kidd.

Along with fellow historian Dan Snow, Mr Holland helped organise a letter signed by 200 celebrities for the “Let’s stay together” campaign just before the last independence vote.

Actress Dame Judi Dench and scientist Stephen Hawking were among the names.

Mr Holland and Mr Snow, who last year backed the Scotland in Union campaign, are part of a 30-strong advisory council for These Islands, which is expected to launch in May with work on the UK single market, British identity and the UK as a “moral good”.

Mr Hague told The Herald the group was not a campaign outfit, but a thinktank backed by academics, business people and peers aimed at influencing public debate and legislation.

He said: “It’s a not-for-profit organisation. We’re trying to do is avoid being defined by the Scottish independence question and take a wider UK perspective.

“The No side was accused of not having a positive case [in 2014]. One of the ideas of These Islands is to create that positive case, and a view of how things develop rather than just defending the status quo. The Scottish question obviously looms large, but does not define us.

“It’s about developing thinking and through well-developed thought building a narrative.

“The one thing we are unashamed about is the belief that more unites us than divides us.”

Citing a recent poll showing most English voters prioritised Brexit over the Union, Mr Holland told the Sunday Times the bonds within the UK had been “slightly frayed”.

He said: “That's why the challenge of making the case for the Union is an English project as much as a Scottish project.

“The risk is that Scottish nationalists see themselves and their commitment to progressive virtue as being stymied by knuckle-dragging English voters; and stout-hearted Englishmen see their dreams of liberty being held back by conniving Scots."

He said wanted pro-Union passion to match that for independence on the Yes side in 2014.

"There is nothing like being perched on a cliff top to make you appreciate solid ground."