Second Scottish referendum inevitable, says Alex Salmond

SNP MP says only timing of independence vote is in question, and failure to deliver sufficient devolution, the EU issue, and austerity make it more likely

A second independence referendum for Scotland is “inevitable”, according to the former first minister and current SNP MP Alex Salmond.

“The question of course is not the inevitability, it is the timing,” Salmond told Andrew Marr in an interview on Sunday morning, “and that is very much in the hands of Nicola Sturgeon.”

Salmond said that there were three issues which were making a second referendum increasingly likely “on a timescale yet to be determined”.

“One is the refusal to deliver the Vow [the pledge of extra powers for the Scottish parliament, made by the leaders of the three main Westminster parties in the days before last September’s poll]. The Vow was about home rule, devo to the max, near-federalism, to quote Gordon Brown. That has not been delivered as yet, not in the Scotland bill,” Salmond said.

“The second issue is the European issue. If you had a circumstance where Scotland voted to stay in but was dragged out on the votes of people in England then that would be a material change in circumstance.

“The third thing emerging comes out of the budget and the welfare bill: instead of getting devo to the max we are getting austerity to the max and that divergent view of what’s right in social terms between Scotland and England is another thing that is moving things towards a second referendum.”

Salmond’s remarks came after another SNP MP, Margaret Ferrier, was criticised for asking if the UK government had contingency plans in place for another independence referendum becoming her party’s policy following the Holyrood elections of 2016.

Ferrier, who is the SNP’s spokesperson for the Scottish Office, submitted the written question to the Scotland secretary, David Mundell, on 17 July.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, the former Tory Scotland secretary Lord Forsyth said the union between Scotland and the rest of the UK was “hanging by a thread” and being jeopardised by “piecemeal” devolution and the stirring up of both English and Scottish nationalism as a result of the Conservative government’s plans for English votes for English laws.

Forsyth called for a new Act of Union to safeguard the future of the UK, saying: “We’ve got into this mess by making piecemeal changes to the constitution and you need to look at all the issues as a whole.

“We probably need a new Act of Union and to look not just at Scotland but the constituent parts of the UK and the powers that are appropriate to be devolved to them and the financial framework that best suits that.”


Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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