GORDON Brown has launched a new campaign to keep the Union together by appealing to the voters of “Middle Scotland”.

The former Labour Prime Minister today said his two-year-old thinktank Our Scottish Future was being converted into a “campaigning movement”.

He said it would put “the positive, progressive and patriotic case for Scotland in Britain”, and urged people to join it.

Mr Brown’s intervention comes in the wake of Nicola Sturgeon led the SNP to a landslide fourth term in office on a manifesto pledge to hold another independence referendum.

The First Minister has said she wants to hold Indyref2 by 2024, Covid permitting, with independence following at the 2026 Scottish elections.

In a phone call with Boris Johnson yesterday, Ms Sturgeon told the Prime Minister that a referendum was a “matter of when not if”.

However Mr Johnson told her the current focus should be the economic recovery, and has already indicated that he would refuse any request for Indyref2.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon tells Boris Johnson: Indyref2 now 'a matter of when - not if'

Writing in the Scotsman, Mr Brown said that, despite the roughly 50/50 vote for and against the SNP last week, and a similar split on independence, the true picture was more complex.

He said polling by Our Scottish Future found around 30% of people were “ideologically committed Nationalists”, and a similar level were “out-and-out Unionists”.

But in the middle were 40% of Scots whose votes would determine the fate of the Union.

He said this group felt more Scottish than British, and preferred the Scottish Parliament over a UK Parliament and the First Minister to the Prime Minister.

If asked to choose between the two, they would choose Scotland rather than Britain and when they vote SNP, it is because they see it as best at standing up for Scotland.

“But, crucially, they don’t want to make the choice between being Scottish and British," he said.

"Unlike the nationalists they have not given up on a British dimension, however small, in their lives.

“In short, Middle Scotland are patriots who love our country but they are not - or at least not yet - nationalists. 

“They do not see life as an endless ‘us versus them’ struggle between Scotland and the UK.”

Mr Brown also complained that Mr Johnson was mishandling the Union, often ending up “asserting Britishness in competition with Scottishness”.

He wrote: “His ‘muscular unionism’ comprises putting up more flags, labelling UK-financed bridges and roads as gifts from the UK, and generally by-passing the Scottish Government as if it did not exist.

“Even though he championed it for London itself, he apparently doesn’t believe in devolution for the part of the UK that is furthest away from the centre.

“But it won’t work. When he said devolution was a disaster, he may have thought he was attacking the SNP.

"Instead, he ends up at odds with mainstream Scottish opinion.”

READ MORE: Salmond says Alba is 'home for lost souls' of the Yes movement

Mr Brown said Our Scottish Future would “argue for a reformed UK with a more inclusive centre, a permanent decision-making forum that brings the leaders of the nations and regions together, and for UK resources to back local policies for economic prosperity. 

“Only when the economic initiatives that are the key to the future of our outlying areas are taken more seriously in Whitehall will I believe Britain is starting to get it right.

“And if the Prime Minister really is to be ‘minister for the Union’ rather than just ‘minister for unionists’, he needs to do more than call ad-hoc meetings with the leaders of Wales and Scotland.

“He should now institute a constitutional review, as Keir Starmer has already done, into the whole future of the United Kingdom, specifically asking it to investigate alternatives to nationalism and the status quo.

“And he should immediately call together leaders from the regions and nations, not as a one-off, but in a task-force to tackle our multiple crises. As he must now realise, he has to change if the United Kingdom is to stay together.”

On BBC Radio 4 this morning, Mr Brown also urged Ms Sturgeon to answer questions on what independence for Scotland means on issues such as costs and the border.

“The big issue is not the referendum, the big issue is independence,” he told the Today programme.

“I would challenge Nicola Sturgeon, she’s had years to think about this, tell us what independence means – the benefits, tell us the costs, tell us about the pound, tell us about the pension, tell us about the border, tell us about quantitative easing.

“None of these questions have been answered and every time you ask her she says she is going to produce a plan some time. We actually should have answers to these questions by now.”

READ MORE: Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross says SNP's proposed Indyref2 Bill is a non-starter

The Times also reported today that UK ministers are planning to cash-bomb Scotland with billions for infrastructure projects and help to clear the NHS backlog from Covid in order to help shore up the Union.

Mr Johnson will offer to inject Treasury money directly into the devolved nations at a summit of UK leaders about the economic recovery.

The SNP has criticised such an approach in the past, as it bypasses the Barnett formula which traditionally determines Scotland's block grant from London.

However the Barnett formula has already been bypassed through the pandemic to give billions in extra spending to Holyrood to cope with the impact of Covid.

SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown said: "Gordon Brown is the very last person anyone in Scotland should be listening to.

"He told people to vote No in 2014, and that has ensured continued Tory austerity, Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, and Brexit imposed on Scotland against our will - a Brexit which Gordon Brown's Labour party now supports.

“And nothing that Labour are proposing would protect Scotland from policies like Brexit, austerity and a Westminster Tory power grab – only independence can do that.

“Ironically, Gordon Brown has launched a campaign about Scotland's future, but he is working hand in hand with Boris Johnson to try to deny the people of Scotland the democratic opportunity to choose it – despite an overwhelming mandate for an independence referendum in the election and clear majority support in the newly elected Scottish Parliament.

"It is not for any politician to decide the future of Scotland – it must and will be a choice for the people of Scotland."