Donald Dewar believed the ancient ban on Catholics becoming monarch was “no longer acceptable” to society, but had grave doubts that it could ever be changed, newly released government papers have revealed.
A Cabinet briefing paper written by the former first minister shows he told colleagues that abolishing the 1701 Act of Settlement might even be impossible.
Repeal would create an uncontrollable “ripple effect” through the constitution, and “certainly” lead to the disestablishment of the Church of England, he admitted privately on the eve of a Holyrood debate in 1999.
The papers, obtained by the SNP under freedom of information legislation, shed new light on current efforts to end the ban on Catholics being monarch or marrying the heir to the throne.
• Full story at the Sunday Herald.