Scottish independence: Alex Salmond to get Alistair Darling in head-to-head TV debate if David Cameron won't take part

 

Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, is to take part in a live television debate about Scottish independence with Alistair Darling, head of the Better Together campaign, if David Cameron continues to refuse to take part.

The Scottish National Party leader has repeatedly called for a debate with Mr Cameron but the Prime Minister has insisted the issue is a matter for “Scots living in Scotland”.

STV News wrote to both campaigns suggesting a two-hour debate in front of an audience of 500 people.

In a letter to STV, the First Minister’s office said: “Should the Prime Minister continue to refuse to participate in a head-to-head televised debate, the First Minister will indeed agree in principle to debate with Alistair Darling or another No campaign nominee.”

It said the debate would be held “shortly after the Commonwealth Games” in Glasgow, which end on 3 August.

Blair McDougall, director of Better Together, said: “The nationalists wanted to make this a Scotland versus England contest. There are two competing Scottish visions for our country. We offer the best of both worlds, with more powers for Scotland backed up by the strength, security and stability of the larger UK. The nationalists only offer a leap in the dark with separation.”

Meanwhile, an expert has estimated that setting up a newly independent Scotland would cost £150m-£200m initially. However Professor Patrick Dunleavy, of London School of Economics, in a report commissioned by The Sunday Post newspaper, warned costs would spiral if Westminster took a “hostile stance” in the negotiations. The First Minister’s spokesman said an estimated of £2.7bn by the UK Treasury had been “blown out the water”.

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