Alan Dukes, former leader of Irish Governing party Fine Gael, has said that UKIP and Nigel Farage could have an important impact on the referendum on independence.
The former Irish finance minister, speaking before UKIP’s surge in the EU elections, recanted a confrontation with their leading MEP.
“I remember having an argument with Nigel Farage about leaving the EU. I told him ‘If you ever get into power and leave the EU I think Scotland will become independent’,” he said.
Last week’s EU elections found support for UKIP three times higher in the rest of the UK than in Scotland. Although UKIP did win a seat in Scotland they only finished fourth while coming first in the UK as a whole. News reports claim Farage is planning to play a larger role in the No Campaign, despite being rejected by the official grouping for being too extreme.
Dukes fears that growing Westminster euroscepticism is damaging the UK.
“The whole UK debate on EU membership is badly devised. It doesn’t sit well with either major London party.
“One of the recent things that has been most regrettable has been UK opposition to cooperation on the issue of justice. The UK has previously been a strong contributor to Interpol and other organisations.”
On the issue of independence Mr Dukes remained sceptical, yet he said that “the UK needs more devolved powers away from London” as decentralisation is “more effective and responsive to local needs.”
Photography by Aileen McKay