Former First minister believes second referendum is made likely by Westminster priority of “keeping out the foreigners”
FORMER First Minister Alex Salmond has said that Westminster will have “no alternative” but to allow Scotland to hold a second independence referendum in the near future.
Speaking to CommonSpace on the second anniversary of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, Salmond said he had little concern that a referendum could be held at the convenience of the Scottish Parliament, which has a majority of MSPs in favour of independence.
Salmond, who led the independence referendum in 2014, took the opportunity of the anniversary to say he thought Brexit meant there could be a second referendum in 2018.
Asked whether he thought Westminster might block such a move he said: “That’s the least of my concerns. I had David Cameron tell me for a long time that he wouldn’t ‘grant’, as he put it, a referendum.
“A referendum isn’t for Westminster to grant. What’s even to grant, it’s an instrument?
“A referendum is for the Scottish parliament to agree and to legislate on. If the parliament does, then Westminster will have no alternative, no more than David Cameron had four years ago.”
Salmond added that he expected current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to do as she had promised and fight to maintain Scotland’s relationship with the EU, but that her crucial attempts to maintain Scotland’s place in the European single market would likely fail, leaving the way open for another referendum.
He argued that from his experience Westminster would not be able to act in a “sensitive or flexible” way faced by the Brexit crisis, and that the political priority would be “keeping out the foreigners”.
“I know exactly what Nicola will do to discharge her mandate she’ll seek to protect our position in Europe, that is absolutely certain.
“What is unclear is what Westminster reaction to that it is going to be, my estimation is they are not interested in the single market for the UK, their priority is going to be keeping out the foreigners.”
Based on this assessment he re-iterated his call for a second referendum in roughly two years time.
Salmond made the comments at the re-launch of the Scottish Independence Convention, which will hold a conference early in 2017 to regain the strength and expertise necessary to refight the campaign for independence, and which he chose to address due to the importance of that work.
He said: “Time is short, in terms of gathering together a new campaign. We need to be prepared.
“You have to be ready for history, history doesn’t have to be ready for you.”
Picture courtesy Ewan McIntosh
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