A French political leader has urged Scots to vote for independence in a new referendum, insisting that Scotland would "have its place in Europe".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold indyref 2 before 2021 if Brexit sees Scotland taken out of the EU despite a majority of Scots having vote in favour of Remain in the 2016 poll.

Warnings that Scotland would lose its membership of the EU if the country had voted to leave the UK 2014 were among the key arguments levelled against Scottish independence.

Jean-Christophe Lagarde, a French MP and head of the centrist Union of Democrats and Independents, said former French President François Hollande had made a mistake in not intervening to reassure Scots before the 2014 independence poll.

Writing in the Scotsman, Mr Legarde said it was up to Scots to choose their own political direction but added: "France’s role is to state very clearly that in the event of independence, Scotland would have its place in the European Union, and should not be deprived of its European destiny."

It comes amid ongoing Brexit negotiations between the Conservative and Labour party, with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer warning today that any cross-party Brexit deal will only get enough support from MPs if it is subject to a fresh public vote.

Meanwhile, polls have put Nigel Farage' pro-Brexit party well in the lead for next week's European elections.

Mr Legarde, who studied history at the prestigious Sorbonne in Paris, said he had always been fascinated by the ties binding France and Scotland as an 'Auld Alliance'.

He said: "Thousands of French people in the Berry and Anjou regions are descendants of Scots who settled there after fighting to help France regain its independence with Charles VII. When my grandfather was born, any French or Scottish citizen could still automatically obtain dual nationality."

The politician, born in Chatelherault - the French town which gave its name to the South Lanarkshire country park - went on to urge French and European leaders to "speak with one voice on the European future of Scotland".

"This issue is fundamental," he said. "The result of the 2014 independence referendum was influenced by this European aspect, given that by leaving the UK, Scotland may also have been obliged to leave the EU.

"In the end, because of the demagogues that pushed for Brexit, Scotland will most likely be unable to stay in the EU anyway.

"Deeply attached to the project of European construction, the Scots are being pushed towards the exit against their will.

"Such a situation deserves better than a closed door."

Mr Legarde urged current French president Emmanuel Macron to make it clear, given the historic alliance of the two nations and Scots' majority pro-EU views, that the EU would welcome an independent Scotland back into the fold.

He said: "I deeply believe that an independent Scotland would have its place in Europe with no conditions and without delay, something of which it cannot be deprived.

"The deadlines and conditions imposed during the joining process are dependent on candidate states complying with EU treaties and regulations known as “acquis communautaires”.

"In this case, an independent Scotland would become one of the most developed states in the EU, having complied with the “acquis” for several decades.

"Now that the Spanish veto has been lifted, nothing would prevent Scotland’s integration by way of an exceptional procedure, similar to the one used by the EEC when it integrated the German Democratic Republic in 1990."