A UNIONIST think tank has appointed three new members to its advisory council.

These Islands, which produces research to bolster the case for the United Kingdom remaining together and describes itself as “enthusiastic about the Union”, announced the appointments on Tuesday.

Who are the new appointments?

They are the Labour peer Baroness Joyce Quin, economist Tony Yates and immigration expert Chris Murray. They join the group’s advisory council, which is involved in These Island’s discussions of its work. The group’s website says members of the advisory council have “a wide variety of perspectives and experience”.

The website adds: “Their role is to both guide and challenge us, to stimulate and test our thinking, and to ensure we are intellectually and analytically rigorous in our approach.”

Baroness Quin

Baroness Quin (below) is a former Labour MEP and MP. She represented Tyne and Wear, in the north east of England from 1979 to 1989. She served as an MP for Gateshead East from 1997 until 2005.

The National:

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She was nominated for a life peerage in 2006. While an MP, she served as minister for prisons and minister for Europe in Tony Blair’s government. Quin was also appointed the chair of the Franco-British Council and awarded the Officier de la Légion d'Honneur" by the French Government in 2010.

She is the author of two books. The British Constitution, Continuity and Change - An Inside View: Authoritative Insight into How Modern Britain Works was published in 2010 and an overview of notable women in the North East of England called Angels of the North was published in 2018.

Before entering politics, Quin was a French language lecturer at Bath University and Durham University.

In a statement on These Islands’ site, Quin said: “I am delighted to become a member of the Advisory Council of These Islands. I have supported the organisation from its beginnings and have been very impressed with its work.

“I also feel strongly that its purpose and beliefs could not be more relevant and crucial at the present time, given the economic and political challenges currently facing the UK."

Tony Yates

Tony Yates (below) is an economist and writer who has been featured in titles including the Financial Times, The Times and The Guardian.

The National:

Before entering academia, he worked at the Bank of England for 20 years, most recently as a senior advisor on monetary policy. He taught macroeconomics at Bristol University after leaving Threadneedle Street and then moved to Birmingham University, where he taught for two years before becoming a freelance economist.

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Yates said: “These Islands have been forensic and relentless in commenting on the economics of Scottish independence: on public finances, monetary policy, and trade.

“I'm delighted to join their advisory board and looking forward to being a part of this effort as the debate about the future of the Union evolves."

Chris Murray

Chris Murray is an immigration expert who has worked for the UK Government, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) and the IPPR think tank.

He began his career as a political assistant to former Labour minster Harriet Harman. He held the role for just under two years before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2014.

First working as an attaché at the British Embassy in Paris, Murray became an adviser on economic diplomacy at the UK delegation to the OECD in the French capital.

He then moved to the charity Save the Children working as a senior government relations adviser.

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His specialism in immigration began when he joined as a research fellow for the progressive IPPR think tank, before he moved to his current role as a policy manager for migration.

He is based in Edinburgh and originally comes from Glasgow. He is also the chair of the board of the Refugee Survival Trust.

Murray said: “These Islands has become a trusted voice in the constitutional debate in Scotland, and I look forward to contributing to its important work as an advisory council member."

What is These Islands?

These Islands is a pro-UK think tank which pulls together economists and academics to boost the case for the Union and mount arguments against independence.

It was founded by ex-fund manager Sam Taylor (below, left), businessman Kevin Hague (below, right) and history professor Ali Ansari in 2017.

The National:

It parted ways with ex-Coast presenter Neil Oliver, who now hosts a GB News show, in 2021 after the historian appeared to be embracing conspiracy theories about Covid.

The organisation was revealed as having received a mystery £150,000 cash boost in 2021 by The National.

The SNP urged the group to “fully declare” the source of the money.