Jim Sillars said Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to call a referendum on the prediction of a ‘hard Brexit’ is a mistake when the Scottish people do not yet know what Britain’s future relationship with the EU will be.
He said: “Nicola seems to have predicated all her statements on a `hard Brexit’ – what if it’s not?
You don’t put in front of the Scottish people a choice of independence when we don’t know what the Brexit deal is going to be
“Look at the trade figures and you hear what people are saying – not the politicians, the one’s who will be most affected, that’s the business people and the Trade Unions. They (the EU) export £690 billion a year to us and send back £628billion.
“There’s a trade advantage to them at the moment.”
The Eurosceptic former MP believes Britain will strike a free trade deal with Brussels and therefore dismissed calls for an independence vote before Brexit negotiations are complete.
He continued: “It seems to me that Nicola has not taken on board what happens if it’s a good deal.
“I think myself there’s going to be a free trade deal. I think it might be as part of the deal that the UK will continue to make some contribution to the EU financially, but it may well be through a Norway-type scheme rather than a direct contribution.
“I would think free trade is the most likely development given the business interests on both sides.”
Mr Sillars urged Scotland to maintain good relations with the rest of the UK because the close trade ties between the Union.
He added: “What will matter to us in the Brexit deal is our biggest trading market which isn’t the European Union which only takes 12 per cent, but the rest of the UK which takes 64 per cent of Scottish exports of goods and services.
“So where England stands is going to be quite important to how we deploy the argument for leaving.
“I think Theresa may is actually quite sensible. You don’t put in front of the Scottish people a choice of independence when we don’t know what the Brexit deal is going to be.”
Last year, Mr Sillars criticised the SNP’s “love affair” with Europe and backed the Leave campaign, branding the EU: “An organisation which, during the referendum, told us to get stuffed and would no doubt tell us to get stuffed second time round as well”.
He said: “I think [the EU] is a profoundly undemocratic organisation which has shown a callous disregard for people, in Portugal, Spain and Greece for example.
“They’ve been willing to make people destitute – beggar nations – in pursuit of a single policy to create a United States of Europe irrespective of whether the people want it.”