Billy Connolly’s rant during Scottish independence row: ‘You’re in a desperate state’

Billy Connolly discusses Parkinson’s and cancer diagnoses

The Glasgow-born star, 78, will announce his retirement from stand-up comedy tonight after six decades in show business on the ITV show It’s Been a Pleasure. Sir Billy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease seven years ago and has since admitted that he doesn’t think he “has long left”. The comedian, nicknamed ‘The Big Yin’, voiced his opinions on Scottish independence in unearthed accounts. 

Sir Billy previously admitted that he was “the least patriotic man in the world” and struggled to understand Scots who disliked English people.

Despite disassociating himself with nationalistic feelings, he proclaimed to “love Scotland”.

He continued: “But if the love for your country is all you have, you’re in a desperate state.

“I dislike people that write England off because they’re Scottish. It’s unfair and brutal.”

The comedian was knighted by Prince William for his services to entertainment and charity in 2017.


Billy Connolly revealed his take on the Scottish independence row amid calls for a second referendum (Image: GETTY)


Billy Connolly will announced his retirement from stand-up comedy after more than four decades (Image: GETTY)

He feared that the royal thought of him as “a mentally ill person” because he “answered questions in the most stupid fashion” due to his nerves.

Sir Billy has often professed his love for his home nation and stated that he would “like to die there”.

He continued: “It’s a weird subject to bring up… I wouldn’t like to stay away forever. I’d like to be planted there eventually, in Loch Lomond.”

Sir Billy said he was inspired by the words of the Scottish poet Sir Walter Scott, who penned: “Breathes there the man, with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, ‘This is my own, my native land!’”

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billy connolly tv scotland independence retire itv

Billy Connolly was knighted at Buckingham Palace in 2018 for services to entertainment and charity (Image: GETTY)

Despite his affection, he quipped: “I don’t like to look like a bagpiper with heather in my ears but sometimes your love for the place just has to find a stage.”

Since Prime Minister Boris Johnson was able to obtain a Brexit deal, which was announced last week, calls for a second Scottish referendum have resurfaced.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is expected to win the Holyrood elections by a landslide in May next year, has backed the campaign. 

The 2014 IndyRef concluded with 55.3 percent of the nation voting to remain a part of the UK and 44.7 against that. 

However, the most recent YouGov poll from November, found that 51 percent of the Scottish public wanted Independence.

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billy connolly tv scotland independence retire itv

Billy Connolly’s decision on Scottish independence changed in the wake of Brexit (Image: EXPRESS)

A poll from the Scotsman/Savanta ComRes found that the vote to leave the UK was as high as 58 percent.  

Sir Billy’s opinion that the nation could be in a “desperate state” during a 2018 interview with the Radio Times, has since changed and the comedian is now a more vocal supporter of Scottish independence. 

Last year, he blasted Brexit as a “con”, which he was “relieved” to be a “few thousand miles away from” in his Florida home and thought Mr Johnson was “the biggest con of all”. 

He told The Guardian: “ I saw on American TV people being interviewed in south Wales, and how pleased they were to have voted out of Europe. 

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billy connolly tv scotland independence retire itv

Billy Connolly at the New York City Tartan Day Parade in 2019 alongside wife Pamela Stephenson (Image: GETTY)

“And then they showed all the things that the EU had funded in their town. They had no idea. It’s completely nuts.”

Britain’s decision to leave the EU influenced Sir Billy’s thoughts about Scottish independence and led him to comment that it “may just be the way to go”.

He made a clear U-turn in his 2018 book Made in Scotland, which saw him depart from his previous ridicule of Holyrood where he branded them a “wee pretendy [sic] parliament”.

Despite his change in opinion, Sir Billy maintained that he has “never had any interest” in “hating England and the English”.

billy connolly tv scotland independence retire itv

Scottish Independence Referendum: In the 2014 vote, 55.3 percent voted No to stay as part of the UK (Image: GETTY)

Sir Billy wrote: “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.

“The Brexit vote is a disaster and the breaking up of the togetherness of Europe is a crime bordering on a sin.”

Sir Billy felt that people being “together, not separate” would ultimately make them “happier” and felt it was important for Scotland to “keep our contact with Europe”.

He continued: “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.”

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Last week, he felt that Scots were “getting closer” to a second independence vote because they were “fed-up with voting one way and getting whatever England votes for”.

He told The Daily Record: “When they tried to vote for independence, the English Government said, ‘It’s bad because you’ll lose the common market, you won’t have the European market because you’ve gone independent’.

“And so they voted against independence and then this Government voted to leave the common market, so they felt cheated.”

Despite his predictions for a second referendum, he admitted that he didn’t know whether they would “ever do it” but he felt it could do, based on “the way they are heading”.

Billy Connolly: It’s Been a Pleasure will air at 9.30pm tonight on ITV.


Daily Express

The Daily Express is a daily national middle-market tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom. Published in London, it is the flagship of Express Newspapers, owned by publisher Reach plc. It was first published as a broadsheet in 1900 by Sir Arthur Pearson. Its sister paper, the Sunday Express, was launched in 1918.

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