Alex Salmond seeks talks with Michael Moore

 

Alex Salmond has called for a meeting with the Scottish Secretary later this month to discuss the referendum on independence.

The Scottish First Minister hopes to meet Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore on Thursday or Friday next week in Edinburgh.

Mr Salmond has also written to Prime Minister David Cameron to suggest they meet in Scotland as soon as possible afterwards.

The exchange of letters follows a week of debate between London and Edinburgh on the staging of the referendum, which Mr Salmond wants to hold in autumn 2014.

Mr Cameron sparked the heated cross-border debate just over a week ago by calling for an early ballot to settle the constitutional question.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said: "The First Minister wrote to the Secretary of State on Monday, suggesting a meeting either next Thursday afternoon or Friday in Edinburgh to discuss the referendum, and officials are in touch with a view to making the necessary arrangements on that timescale.

"The First Minister wrote to the Prime Minister this morning, welcoming his willingness to meet and suggesting that this takes place as soon as possible after Mr Salmond has met Mr Moore."

Although Mr Salmond wants to meet the Prime Minister in Scotland, he is willing to meet in London or any other convenient location.

Talks will include the legality of the referendum, which the UK Government says can only rest with Westminster.

That position was highlighted yesterday by Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC, the Advocate General, who said the Scottish Government risks flouting a "fundamental principle of democracy" if it stages its own referendum.

As well as disagreement on the timing, there is a clash on the referendum question, with Westminster preferring a straightforward Yes or No to independence and the SNP suggesting an additional option of further devolution, known as "devo max".

PA

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