Scotland could leave the UK WITHOUT a referendum

Salmond warns Scotland could leave the UK WITHOUT a referendum after desperate bid to accuse Westminster of ‘tricking’ voters

Defeated SNP leader Alex Salmond this morning accused Westminster of ‘tricking’ Scottish voters into rejecting separation – and suggested the country could declare independence without a referendum.

Scotland-could-leave-the-UK-WITHOUT-a-referendum
Alex Salmond said the two million voters who rejected independence would be furious if Westminster’s devolution ‘vow’ was broken

He said the No campaign’s last minute promise of more powers for Holyrood had swayed voters – and accused David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband of reneging on their word.

But the outgoing First Minister, who dramatically announced he was stepping down from the job on Friday, claimed holding a referendum was ‘only one of a number of routes’ to independence.

He said despite last week’s referendum defeat the ‘writing is on the wall’ for the Union. Mr Salmond said: ‘I think the destination is pretty certain, we are only now debating the timescale and the method.’

Interviewed yesterday on Sky News, Mr Salmond said: ‘There are a whole range of ways Scotland can improve its position in pursuit of Scottish independence.’

He added: ‘I think referendums are great, they have been my policy and even I have been surprised by an 85 per cent poll and the degree of public engagement, but of course for many years there was a “gradualist” attitude to independence.

‘That is to say you establish a parliament, you establish successfully more powers until you have a situation where you’re independent in all but name and then presumably you declare yourself to be independent. Many countries have proceeded through that route.

‘There is a parliamentary route where people can make their voice heard as well – so a referendum is only one of a number of routes.

‘I think it’s the best route incidentally, that’s always been my opinion but my opinion is only one of many.’

Mr Salmond’s remarks came amid mounting nationalist fury over the perception that Westminster was wobbling over honoring its promise to devolve more powers to Scotland.

The three main Westminster party leaders made a ‘vow’ to Scottish voters that new powers over tax, welfare and spending would be transferred to Edinburgh.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said there would be a vote in the Commons on the proposals by March next year. But the Prime Minister shocked Westminster on Friday morning – just hours after the result was announced – by revealing that any new devolution of powers to Scotland would have to go hand in hand with ‘English votes for English laws’.

Mr Cameron’s demand sparked an angry backlash from Labour MPs – with Ed Miliband accusing the Prime Minister of playing politics with Westminster’s pledge to transfer powers to Scotland. The Prime Minister has insisted that the timetable for further devolution would be met.

A Downing Street spokesman this morning said: ‘The three pro-union parties have made commitments on further powers for the Scottish Parliament and we have set out a clear timetable to do this. This Government has delivered on devolution and we will do so again in the next Parliament.’

But Mr Salmond said the Tories and Labour should have thought about their differences ‘before they made a solemn vow and pledge to the Scottish people’ and accused them of breaking their pledge.

He said: ‘I don’t see how they can be kept between David Cameron who says they must go in tandem with changes in England, and Ed Miliband who says they can’t go in tandem with changes in England. These seem to be two irreconcilable positions from political interest at Westminster.

‘It’s the people who voted No because they believed these commitments from the Westminster leadership, these are the people who are feeling most angry, most hurt, most disappointed in Scotland today.

‘The wrath of Khan will be as of nothing to the wrath of a No voter who has been gulled by the Westminster leadership.’

He said the ‘vow’ was ‘really important’ in convincing voters to reject independence.

Mr Salmond said ‘No’ voters in last week’s independence referendum were ‘tricked’ by a late vow of more devolved powers.

He said: ‘I am actually not surprised they are caviling and reneging on commitments, I am only surprised by the speed at which they are doing it. They seem to be totally shameless in these matters.’

Mr Salmond claimed that independence was now only a matter of time. He said: ‘When you have a situation where the majority of a country up to the age of 55 is already voting for independence then I think the writing is on the wall for Westminster.

‘I think the destination is pretty certain, we’re only debating the timescale and the method.’

But Alistair Darling this morning insisted the pledge for more powers would be acted upon within the stated timetable.

‘The agreement reached between the three parties is non-negotiable,’ he told the Marr programme.

‘It was promised, it’s got to be delivered, and anyone who welshes on that will pay a very heavy price for years to come.’

Under the plans agreed by the three Westminster leaders, legislation transferring powers to Westminster would be delivered by whichever government comes into office at next year’s general election.

A motion to be laid before the UK parliament by the three parties on Monday sets out steps to deliver further devolution to Scotland within a tight timetable.

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