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Billy Connolly voices support for independence to keep Scotland in the EU

The i logo The i 21/10/2018 Mark McLaughlin
Billy Connolly wearing glasses © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Billy Connolly has reversed his position on Scottish independence saying a split with England may be the only way to remain in Europe.

The comedian, who spoke out against independence ahead of the 2014 referendum, has now suggested European unity is more important than British unity.

Sir Billy, 75, who was knighted in 2017 for his services to entertainment and charity, said: "One thing I've never had any interest in is hating England and the English.

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”I like Thomas Hardy as much as I like Robert Burns. As an Anglophile, I've never shouted for Scottish independence but I might be changing my mind now."

'A crime bordering on a sin'

Writing in his new book Made In Scotland, he added: "The Brexit vote is a disaster and the breaking up of the togetherness of Europe is a crime bordering on a sin. I think the more people are together, not separate, the happier they will be.

I think it’s time for people to get together, not split apart

Billy Connolly standing on a stage © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

"The most important thing for Scotland is to keep our contact with Europe. Scots voted to stay in Europe, and if the only way for us to do that is to become independent from England, that may just be the way to go. And I never thought I would say that.”

'The more people stay together, the happier they'll be'

A series of polls have suggested a ‘no deal’ Brexit could give support for independence a narrow lead over support for the United Kingdom.

Sir Billy’s evolving position on independence to keep Scotland in Europe chimes with comments he made in 2014 that he favoured larger political unions.

“I don’t believe in having more layers of government that ordinary people will have to pay for,” he said ahead of the referendum in which Scotland rejected independence by 55 percent.

“I think it’s time for people to get together, not split apart. The more people stay together, the happier they’ll be.”

'I want to become a part of Scotland'

However, his comments echo the dilemma faced by many wavering unionists who were told independence was the only way to protect Scotland’s place in the European Union, but were outvoted in the Brexit referendum in 2016 in which Scotland voted by 62 percent to remain in the EU.

Sir Billy, who has Parkinson’s disease, has also said he wants "to become part of Scotland" when he dies, buried in a wicker casket or a sheet with a tree planted on top.

The comedian, who now lives in Los Angeles, has told his wife, Pamela Stephenson, his epitaph should read "Jesus Christ, is that the time already?”

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