AN independent Scotland would leapfrog other countries waiting to join the European Union and move into a “fast-track line”, an expert has said.

James Ker-Lindsay, a visiting professor at the London School of Economics, said Scotland could “overtake the other countries in short order and join the EU relatively quickly”.

The SNP, which is pushing for the power to hold a second independence referendum, said the intervention demolished “one of the Unionist myths from 2014”.

There have been repeated claims that an independent Scotland would have to join the back of the queue for EU membership.

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In 2014, then prime minister David Cameron said it would have to “queue up as it were behind other countries – for instance those in the western Balkans that are already on the path towards membership”.

But Prof Ker-Lindsay said no policy maker “would put Scotland in the same basket as the western Balkans”.

He said there are currently just three formal candidates for EU membership: Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

Two more countries, North Macedonia and Albania, are in line to start accession talks.

In a blog post published by the Scottish Centre on European Relations, Prof Ker-Lindsay said: “In terms of the political framework, there is no doubt that Scotland stands apart from the countries currently in the queue.

“In every way, the historical, political, economic and even social contexts are completely different.”

He said the western Balkans are scarred by the conflicts of the 1990s, while there are still unresolved issues such as “the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia, and the political deadlock in Bosnia”.

Problems around the rule of law, democratic institutions and the economy also remain in some areas.

The academic wrote: “Leaving aside the fact that Scotland was part of the EU for 47 years by virtue of British membership, the differences between Scotland and the western Balkans could not be starker.”

He said this all meant EU members “will almost certainly treat Scotland very differently when it comes to making the political decisions about whether or not to open accession talks”.

Prof Ker-Lindsay wrote: “However, while the political framework could not be more different, one would imagine that the formal negotiating process will have to remain essentially the same.

“The Commission would assess the situation in terms of each chapter and report back on whether convergence exists. It would then be for members to make their decisions.

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“That said, one cannot overlook the specific circumstances that would arise in the case of Scotland.”

He said the process of an independent Scotland re-joining the EU could be “relatively straightforward and swift”, assuming there is no major divergence between the EU and UK after the Brexit transition period.

The expert said: “Ultimately, if the member states wish to acknowledge the fundamental differences that exist between Scotland and the Western Balkans, and adjust the wider framework of negotiations, they can – and I suspect would – do so.

“To this extent, any claim that Scotland would have to go to the back of the queue may be theoretically correct, but only as a simple statement of fact. At the moment of independence, it would not have taken any of the steps to join that the others have done.

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“However, it would almost certainly be moved to the fast track line. From there, it would still be subject to the same checks as everyone else. However, assuming the paperwork is all in order and there haven’t been many or significant divergences, one would expect it to overtake the other countries in short order and join the EU relatively quickly.”

Keith Brown, the SNP’s deputy leader, said the comments were “yet another intervention demolishing one of the Unionist myths from 2014”.

He said: “People in Scotland overwhelmingly voted to stay in the EU – and despite being dragged out against our will by a Tory government with no mandate here, Scotland remains a European country with European values.

“There is now unstoppable momentum for a referendum, and the ability to protect our place at the heart of Europe.

“Scotland must have the chance to choose our own future as an independent, European nation.”