Tony Blair has said that a “really capable” opposition is needed to challenge the SNP in Scotland.

Appearing on Times Radio, the former Prime Minister said it is “extremely difficult” to challenge the SNP on independence when the party is “virtually uncontested” in Scotland.

Calling for stronger opposition in the Scottish Parliament he said: “You’ve got to look at the ways which we make the case in articulate and sensible ways as to why Scotland is stronger and better off inside the UK.

“But I come back to the point which is nothing to do with Boris Johnson, it’s actually more to do with the Labour Party.

“How do you make the Labour Party back into a credible opposition in Scotland? Because while the SNP are able to govern virtually uncontested, then it’s extremely difficult to dent their position on independence.

“But that’s for us to decide as the Labour Party how we’re going to do that.”

He admitted that Brexit had helped put the idea of Scottish independence back on the agenda and that the situation would require "careful management" 

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He said: “We had a referendum that rejected Scottish independence, but Brexit put it back on the agenda again.

“And it’s going to require very careful management. The truth of the matter is it’s still not in Scotland’s interest to separate from England.

“There are huge economic and political reasons for the United Kingdom to stay the United Kingdom but we’re going to have to examine whether there’s different constitutional settlements.

“I also think it’s incredibly important, the single most important thing politically to my mind, is that we get a really capable opposition in Scotland – which should be the Labour Party – that’s capable of contesting the Scottish nationalist position in Scotland in a way that prevents them from doing what they do at the moment, which is govern Scotland but pretend they’re in opposition.

“So pretend all the problems are going to be resolved by independence, when actually the Scottish Government itself has in its power the vast amount of the levers that they need to change Scotland residing in the Scottish devolution settlement.”

Blair also added that he would have backed Keir Starmer on Boris Johnson's trade deal saying he would have backed Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal in Parliament.

Asked if he would have voted for the deal in the Commons, he said: “I would have backed (Sir Keir Starmer) on this.

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“I mean look, it’s a tactical question for the Labour Party because the problem is that it’s open to your opponents to say that if you don’t back the deal, then you’re voting for no-deal.”

Mr Blair continued: “There was a case for abstaining and there was a case for voting for it because the alternative’s no-deal.

“What I’m really saying is as a decision that the Labour leader’s got to take, I don’t think it particularly matters to the Labour Party either way.

“I think what does matter is that we’re still in a position where we’re pointing out what the problems with this deal are.”