PLANS to permanently decorate the Elizabeth Tower at Westminster with shields displaying the England flag have been branded a “welcome boost for Scottish independence”.

The SNP hit out after it emerged the restoration of the iconic landmark will recreate its original colour scheme – including six shields above each clock face painted with a St George’s Cross.

The move, announced by House of Commons chiefs, has have labelled “fantastic timing” as England hopes to progress to the World Cup final.

But SNP MP Pete Wishart insisted: "This is a welcome boost for Scottish independence as Westminster prepares to become an England-only parliament.

"People will, however, be forgiven for thinking that transition began long ago – as Scotland continues to be sidelined and ignored on the biggest issues facing our country.

"Whether Scotland opposes Brexit, austerity, Trident, or the devolution power grab, our views never seem to matter to a Tory government that arrogantly thinks it can do whatever it likes to Scotland and get away with it."

Fellow SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said he didn't think Westminster bosses had "thought through the political consequences.”

Elizabeth Tower, which includes the Big Ben clock bell, will be repainted its original blue and gold during the ongoing £61 million restoration, which is due to be completed in 2021.

The shields above the giant clock face will also return to their initial English colour scheme, staying true to Victorian architect Charles Barry’s vision.

But a rose, thistle, shamrock and leek – representing England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales – will also be included in the decorations.

Experts working on the revamp said they had "carried out extensive research into the original decorative scheme".

Their announcement came just hours before England are due to take on Croatia in the World Cup semi-final.

Adam Watrobski, Parliament's Principal Architect, said: “As part of the major repair and conservation of the Elizabeth Tower, we have carried out extensive research into the original decorative scheme for the clock faces and the adjacent areas.

“Using historic paint analysis and references including Barry's original design watercolour, contemporary illustrations and archival photographs, we have recreated the original colour scheme.

“The dials and clock hands are Prussian blue and gold and the adjacent areas make use of the red, white and blue colours of the Union flag, along with the detail colours used for heraldic shields for each part of the United Kingdom.”