Gordon Brown has dismissed demands for a second independence referendum, saying the nation needs “time to heal” emotionally and financially after the pandemic.
The former prime minster said separation should not be the route for Scotland and instead argued for a radical shakeup of the devolution settlement.
Mr Brown, speaking to the BBC, said: “The question of the moment is not whether you could have a referendum, the question is whether you should have a referendum. We’re in the middle of a virus, a recession, we’ve got huge problems.
“There’s got to be a time to heal before you go into any divisive, conflicting referendum that really will cause consternation in Scotland for months and months to come.”
The former Labour leader did acknowledge the groundswell in support for independence, but said moves away from the UK were not just found in Scotland.
“It’s not just a Scottish problem now and it’s not even just a Welsh problem, you see the revolt of the regions around the United Kingdom, they feel they’re not listened to, the government doesn’t consult, they’ve got the local knowledge but they don’t have the resources, the government’s got the resources but not the local knowledge.
“This is now a UK problem.”
He added: “You cannot straitjacket a multinational country and diverse regions into a centralised unitary state as they’ve been trying to do.
“I think we need a new plan for the future of the United Kingdom.”
Mr Brown, who played an instrumental role in the 2014 referendum campaign, sidestepped questions over whether he would be involved in the event a second vote was granted.
He said: “I think there are many people who will lead the unionist campaign in Scotland.”
His comments came after SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford claimed his party “must” plan for indyref2 to take place in 2021.
In an interview with the Sunday National, Mr Blackford said: “We can find a way out of Boris’s Brexit Britain to Scotland reclaiming its independence as a country within the European Union, a country that will be respectful to the law, one where we’re seeking to build a fairer country, but one where we also recognise our responsibilities.
“And the way to do that is to continue to convince those seeing the settled will of the Scottish people with independence to come towards us.”
He added: “That referendum will take place and we need to plan that that referendum must take place in 2021.”