March 3, 2016 / 3:21 PM / 3 years ago

Ex-Scottish nationalist deputy leader backs British EU exit

Stirling Castle, built in the 12th century, stands on an extinct volcano in Stirling, Scotland, Britain February 29, 2016. Picture taken February 29, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - A former deputy leader of Scotland’s ruling nationalist party says he is backing a British exit from the European Union, partly because the bloc told Scotland to “get stuffed” during its independence referendum in 2014.

In a pamphlet published on Thursday Jim Sillars, deputy leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) from 1991 to 1992, criticised the party now led by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for backing Britain’s EU membership in a June 23 referendum.

“We ... are being asked by the SNP to campaign in favour of an EU that, during the (independence) referendum campaign, told us to get stuffed, and if the UK remains in, will tell us that again when we come to the second independence referendum,” he said.

Sillars is a leading figure in the more radical faction of the Scottish secession movement, and may galvanise a “leave” vote in Scotland, although polls so far show Scots are mostly in favour of staying in the EU.

Some leading politicians, including Sturgeon, have warned a vote to leave the EU could mean a renewed independence drive should Scotland back staying in and Britain as a whole votes for leaving. Scots rejected independence by 55 to 45 percent in 2014.

“By campaigning in England, the SNP implicitly recognises and gives legitimacy to the unionist case that this is an all-UK vote, with no separate status for Scotland,” he said.

A poll last year showed 27 percent of SNP members backed leaving the EU.

Reporting By Elisabeth O'Leary; editing by Michael Holden

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