A second referendum on Scottish independence has become inevitable since David Cameron’s election victory, Alex Salmond has claimed.
The former SNP leader said it was only a matter of timing over when a fresh vote would be staged following last September’s poll in which 55.3 per cent of Scots voted to remain in the United Kingdom.
He argued that the Conservatives’ policies on austerity, devolution and the European Union were “moving things” towards a new referendum.
The former First Minister, who has returned to Westminster as an MP, struck a different note from his successor, Nicola Sturgeon, who ruled out the prospect of a second vote on independence during the general election campaign. He told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “I think a second independence referendum is inevitable. The question is not the inevitability, it’s the timing and that is very much in the hands of Nicola Sturgeon.”
Mr Salmond accused the Prime Minister of failing to deliver on his pre-election promises of wide-ranging devolution of power to Scotland and of planning “austerity to the max”.
He said a vote for Britain to leave the EU in the membership referendum promised by Mr Cameron could put independence on the agenda. He said: “If you had a situation and circumstance where Scotland voted to stay in the European Union in the referendum, but was dragged out on the votes of the people of England then that would be a material change of circumstance.”
Mr Salmond’s comments reflected an increased confidence in SNP ranks that its stunning general election performance, when it captured 56 of the 59 Scottish seats, could provide a launch-pad for a new drive for independence. Ms Sturgeon is expected to come under pressure on the issue at the SNP’s annual conference in Aberdeen in October.
Mr Salmond resigned as Scottish First Minister in September following the failed bid for Scottish independence.
Prior to the vote, he described it as a “once in a generation, perhaps even once in a lifetime, opportunity for Scotland” and argued that if it did not succeed, a second referendum would not take place.
Ian Murray, the shadow Scottish Secretary, said: “Alex Salmond’s priorities are all wrong. Instead of obsessing about a rerun of a vote that took place less than a year ago, the SNP should focus on cleaning up the mess they have made of Scotland’s public services.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies