Scottish independence: Salmond welcomes Murray's last minute declaration of support

British number one tennis player's public declaration of support for the independence campaign welcomed by First Minister

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The Independent Online

As voting got underway in Scotland, Alex Salmond received an early boost when Andy Murray delivered a surprise endorsement of independence.

The First Minister responded: “I hear Andy Murray has hit another winner today, which is great news, and I think the message for Scotland is, let’s do it now… It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I think you can see it already from the number of people voting.”

The Wimbledon champion, who lives in England and does not have a vote, tweeted his support for a Yes vote early today for 2.7m followers.

He told them: “Huge day for Scotland today! No campaign negativity last few days totally swayed my view on it. Excited to see the outcome. Lets do this!”

His backing came as a surprise because he previously condemned Mr Salmond for unfurling the Saltire after his Wimbledon victory last year. His name was also invoked this week by David Cameron on a list of Great Scots when the Prime Minister delivered a last-minute plea for a No vote.

Earlier this year Murray refused to be drawn over his attitude towards independence. He said: “I will take a position. My thoughts on it aren’t that relevant, because I can’t vote myself.

Video: The Scottish independence referendum explained in three minutes

“I wouldn’t personally choose to make my feelings on something like that public either because not a whole lot of good comes from it.

“I don’t know a whole lot about politics, and I have made that mistake in the past and it’s caused me a headache for seven or eight years of my life and a lot of abuse.