Scottish Independence: Salmond claims Scotland would be 'wealthiest country in the world' to become independent

Scottish residents will vote in four weeks time

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The Independent Online

Alex Salmond has claimed Scotland would be the wealthiest country in the world ever to declare independence if the country votes ‘yes’ in September’s referendum.

The Scottish First Minister told MSPs gathered at the Scottish Parliament for the final time before the vote that while Scotland is already “one of the wealthiest countries in the world”, many people do not feel it.

The gap between rich and poor “is far too wide” Mr Salmond continued.  “Far, far too many Scots don't have the chance to fulfil their potential," he said. "At its heart, the case for independence is a simple one.

"We're one of the world's wealthiest countries - our gross domestic product per head is higher than the UK, France and Japan. Indeed, if Scotland votes Yes, we'd be the wealthiest country in the world ever to declare its independence."

On Wednesday, a Future of England survey found people in England are overwhelmingly against Scotland leaving the UK, while another 53 per cent believed Scotland should not be able to continue using the pound if it becomes independent.

A YouGov poll on Monday found more people in Scotland wanted to stay part of the UK, with 'No' to independence at 57 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Economic and Social Research Council, based at Edinburgh and Stirling universities, found support for independence varies on low and high earners, Edinburgh News reports. Forty-six per cent of lowest income earners wanted independence, while just 27 per cent of the highest earners did.

Mr Salmond has not revealed what currency option he would "settle for" if Westminster fulfilled its pledge to veto a formal currency union between Scotland and the Bank of England, insisting he will negotiate "for the best option for Scotland".

He said “the overwhelming likelihood is that we will have that currency union”.

"That is the policy of the Scottish Government, that is the plan that we are putting forward.”

A Better Together spokesperson dismissed Mr Salmond’s remarks as “more misleading claims from the nationalists”

Video: Salmond Vs Darling independence debate

“The facts from the experts are clear - if we leave the UK we would need to make extra cuts worth £6 billion to our public services in Scotland, like our schools and hospitals. That's a risk we just don't have to take.

 "This is embarrassing timing for Alex Salmond. Coming after one of the world's leading oil and gas experts exposed the risks to funding for our schools and hospitals in an independent Scotland, nobody believes Alex Salmond's claim that there is a land of milk and honey waiting for us if we vote Yes.”

Residents of Scotland will vote in the referendum on 18 September.