THE Union could be strengthened by England taking part in celebrating Burns Night – according to a book co-written by one of the Tory leadership candidates.

Penny Mordaunt, who emerged as the bookie’s favourite for taking the keys to Number 10 last week, wrote a book with multimillionaire PR agency boss Chris Lewis last year which sets out a manifesto for reviving Britain after Covid and Brexit.

While it fails to explicitly discuss the issue of Scottish independence, Greater: Britain After the Storm, raises concerns that the Union cannot be “taken for granted” if it is to survive.

One way in which this could happen, it suggests, is if more attention is given to participating in different national celebrations around the UK.

“Britain is unusual in not having either a national day of celebrations or distinct events around our great institutions,” the book states.

“The instincts to do so are there. It happened spontaneously during Covid when communities clapped the NHS, so why can we not celebrate out national institutions, or even our devolved nations, formally.”

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It goes on: “We can do more to celebrate Scots culture perhaps in the way Canada and America do. Most English people would need no excuse to join in the drinking on St Patrick’s or St David’s Day. As for Burns Night, well, try stopping them.”

However, Mordaunt and Lewis acknowledged that Brexit could be the beginning of the disintegration of the UK.

They wrote: “If Scotland is turning its back on England, then how soon before Cornwall or Yorkshire slide into the same process? Brexit may not be a single event. It may be the beginning of a process unless we reverse the drift.

“The practical upside to the Union is well understood, but the Brexit vote showed one thing clearly: even if people thought they might be worse off afterwards, there were other things that mattered more.

“Post-Brexit, Britain needs to examine why the union of the four nations matters and how to reverse the drift. If the union matters, it needs to be clear why. If the UK is to survive, its existence can’t be taken for granted.”

Last week Mordaunt claimed she has what it takes to break the SNP’s “yellow wall” and help the Tories take power in Scotland.

Making her pitch to Tory members in Scotland, she said she would dodge any questions about holding another referendum on Scottish independence, claiming she was “against playing on the SNP’s turf”.

But in the book Mordaunt – who was one of the leading faces of the Leave campaign – and Lewis highlight the importance of democracy when talking about the Brexit vote.

“Whatever side of the argument you were on (and the authors of this book were on opposite ones), at the end of it, Britons should be left with a residual feeling of pride,” it states.

“Not because of the result, but because of the democracy that delivered it. When the people choose what they want, all democrats can celebrate. If the people are wrong, then they can change it.”

It adds: “A functioning democracy, whether you agree with the outcome or not, is no reason for despair. On the contrary, it is testimony to freedom of choice and the strength of democracy by secret ballot.”

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In response, SNP MP Kirsten Oswald said: “Penny Mordant says ‘when the people choose what they want, all democrats can celebrate’ – but she and every other Tory leadership candidate, is determined to deny Scotland having a democratic choice over its own future.

“Soon, the Tories will have to engage in the substance of the independence debate in Scotland.

“It will be for them to explain exactly why the UK continues to make decisions that are bad for Scotland – from a failure to invest North Sea oil and gas revenues to a crippling decade of austerity and a deeply damaging hard Brexit that Scotland overwhelmingly rejected.

“Decisions about Scotland should be taken by those who live here. That can’t happen under Westminster control – it can only happen with the full powers of independence.”