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Nicola Sturgeon says Alex Salmond must apologise to women before she can work with him again

SNP leader claims old boss motivated by ‘limelight’ rather than independence cause

Adam Forrest
Tuesday 30 March 2021 10:20 BST
Alex Salmond backs street demonstrations to win independence

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has suggested Alex Salmond would have to apologise to the women who accused him of sexual harassment before she could consider working with him again.

Her predecessor has set up the Alba Party in a bid to boost to the number of pro-independence MSPs in the Scottish parliament and create a “super majority” for the separatist cause.

Despite their spectacular fall-out over sexual harassment claims – of which Mr Salmond was cleared in court last year – the Alba Party leader has claimed the rivals must “sink their differences” in the interests of independence.

Asked whether she could ever do business with him again, Ms Sturgeon said: “If Alex had walked out of the courtroom and shown any sense of acknowledgement of what had been conceded in the courtroom... maybe there is a foundation.

“The first step before anybody else can try to come to terms with that is that Alex has to himself show any sort of sign of acknowledging how people feel about how he behaved while he was first minister,” the first minister told the Daily Record.

“He hasn’t done that and, therefore, I’m not sure what the basis would be for me to sit down with him and have that discussion,” she said, before adding: “The people who he owes an apology to are the women that he behaved inappropriately towards.”

In a scathing interview, Ms Sturgeon suggested Mr Salmond’s need for attention was behind his new party. “I think he will be telling himself he is somehow advancing the independence cause, but I think he is standing because he loves the limelight and can’t bear not to be on the stage.”

Mr Salmond has said he did not wish to split the vote among Scots who are keen on independence.

His party will not challenge the SNP in the constituency contests and aim to pick up seats through Holyrood’s regional list system which have been typically denied to the SNP because they win so many constituency seats.

Mr Salmond thinks his new outfit could help create a “super majority” of around 90 pro-independence MSPs in the Scottish parliament – strengthening the case for another independence referendum.

Dismissing his plans, the SNP leader added: “At the end of the day, we’ve got to win independence fair and square. We can’t game, or cheat, our way to that.”

Nicola Sturgeon out campaigning in Glasgow (Getty Images)

The first minister said she wanted to win a majority of seats and persuade a majority of the population to back independence in order to claim a mandate for a second referendum.

She admitted Mr Salmond’s party could wreck her plans: “I think the real danger is that it could hinder that exercise.”

The SNP councillor Michelle Ferns has become the latest defector to the Alba Party. Mr Salmond has now persuaded two MPs and four councillors from Ms Sturgeon’s to jump ship.

Scotland’s top polling guru, Professor John Curtice, has said that if less than 5 per cent of Scots are minded to vote for Mr Salmond’s new party “then he is running the risk of emerging ... empty handed”.

The leaders of Scotland’s five largest established parties – but not Mr Salmond – will take part in their first TV debate of the Holyrood election on BBC News and BBC Scotland on Tuesday evening.

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