THE former MSP who chaired the SNP Growth Commission has called on his party to back the “softest” version of independence.

In a clear echo of the language used in the Brexit debate, Andrew Wilson said: “What we would be hoping for is the softest of possible changes, compared to the hardest that we are seeing Britain dealing with [in] Europe.

"You want us to be respectful of 300 years of reality. Not just for emotional reasons, but for economic reasons as well.”

Wilson, whose team was asked to reboot the economic case for independence, also warned against tax rises on the rich, describing a 50p income tax as “self-harm”.

However, Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “There would be nothing ‘soft’ about the SNP’s plans for independence.

“As Andrew Wilson’s Cuts Commission outlined - and experts such as the IFS confirmed - separation would lead to a decade of unprecedented austerity, hitting spending on public services and the welfare state hardest."