A FORMER adviser to three Labour first ministers has pledged his support for Scotland becoming an independent country.

Duncan Maclennan, a key adviser to Scottish Labour’s first three first ministers, Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell, has insisted that it is now “fundamentally important” that a second referendum on independence takes place.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Mr Maclennan also pointed to the “elitism, incompetence and unelected arrogance” that he attributes to the UK Government.

Mr Maclennan, a key Labour figure I the early years of devolution, has praised the “professional honesty” of Andrew Wilson’s Sustainable Growth Commission report for the SNP – which predicted it could take up to a decade for an independent Scotland’s deficit to return to sustainable levels.

He added: “Scotland can strengthen its international connections, it has strong institutions and communities and it also seems to have a creative drive to embrace more sustainable and fairer futures than does the likely Westminster-Whitehall realm for the decade ahead.

“I now believe that our best first constitutional move in a very uncertain world is to seek Scottish independence.”

The economist and professor of public policy at Glasgow University also indicated that Scotland is being ”steadily disconnected from English policy debates and Whitehall civil service”, accusing Boris Johnson of “muscling in on devolved matters and curtailing the power of the Scottish Parliament”.

SNP depute leader, Keith Brown, said: “As each day passes by Boris Johnson and the Tories continue to undermine devolution and Scotland’s place in the UK.

“Duncan Maclennan advised some of the early pioneers of Scottish devolution, but Westminster is now threatening to rip that up and grab power away from Scotland.

“He represents an ever-growing cohort of Labour supporters who are seeing that the only way for Scotland to truly become the progressive and compassionate country we all want is to become independent.”

He added: “It is about time Richard Leonard started to listen to members of his own party, at least one-third of whom say they would vote Yes – and back another independence referendum or risk becoming another democracy denier like Trump and Johnson.

“I agree with Duncan that Scottish independence strengthens our international connections and provides an opportunity to embrace a more sustainable and fairer future than being shackled to a Westminster government hell-bent on pursuing a damaging, relationship-destroying Brexit.”

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour’s constitutional spokesperson, said: “Scottish Labour will continue to oppose the damage that Scottish independence would do to the people of Scotland and the deep austerity that would follow in its wake.

“We need a period of healing, not stoking old divisions.”