ALEX Neil has warned voters will reject the SNP’s plans for independence if it means rejoining the EU and “customs barriers at the border” with England. 

The former SNP minister, who this week announced he will retire from Holyrood next May, said EU membership would also bring “downsides” on fishing and other areas.

“You’ve got to be honest about these matters,” he said.

Nicola Sturgeon has said an independent Scotland would apply to rejoin the EU after a Yes vote to avoid the economic damage caused by Brexit elsewhere in the UK.

However Brexit means a dimension that was not foreseen in the 2014 referendum - different customs regimes either side of the border.

Speaking to ITV Border, Mr Neil was asked if there would be a “serious and significant border” between Scotland and England if the former was in the EU and the latter wasn’t.

The only SNP MSP to publicly back Brexit, Mr Neil said: “My argument is there would be. I mean you’ve got to be honest about these matters.

“Because if Scotland was in a customs union, ie the EU, and the rest of the UK was out of the customs union, by definition there are going to be customs barriers at the border between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“And I don’t believe people in another independence referendum will vote for that.

“There is a better alternative, and that is for an independent Scotland to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

“That gives us free trade with the entirety of Europe, not just those in the EU, but the entirety of Europe through what’s called the European Economic Area with out the downside of being in a customs union, or many other downsides on fishing and other things in relation to EU membership.”

EU membership would also require Scotland to be part of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of the anti-independence group Scotland in Union, said: “This is some refreshing honesty from a senior SNP figure. 

“With 60 per cent of our exports going to the rest of the UK, customs barriers would jeopardise our economy and jobs, particularly under the SNP’s plan to scrap the pound.”