POLITICS

Alex Salmond Says 'Yes' Could Win Second Scottish Independence Referendum

20/12/2014 12:06 GMT | Updated 20/12/2014 17:59 GMT

Alex Salmond believes he will get a second chance to hold an independence referendum and next time he thinks he will win.

An English vote to take the UK out of the European Union if Scots vote to stay could be the "tipping point" that brings about another poll, he told The Times.

Mr Salmond has previously said independence was a "once in a generation opportunity", but the 59-year-old MSP now believes he will see independence within his lifetime.

He stood down as SNP leader and first minister after the No vote - but No voters' hope he would leave public life were quashed when he announced he would stand to be an MP in 2015.

Unionists' "quasi-religious vow" of further devolution was the decisive factor in securing the No vote as it offered "power without risk", according to Mr Salmond, but he said the final offering in the Smith Commission is "a betrayal".

alex salmond

Alex Salmond on election day

Mr Salmond also revealed the Queen was not "best pleased" with David Cameron when he was overheard boasting that she "purred" down the phone when the Prime Minister told her Scots had rejected independence.

Mr Salmond said: "A taxi driver said to me that he had voted No to independence but he would do it differently next time. I think we would win if there was another referendum."

He added: "Luckily in life, as in politics, people sometimes get a second chance."

Commenting on the proposed in/out referendum on the EU, he said: "If you believe there are four equal nations, partners in this United Kingdom, then it seems reasonable that no one country should be dragged out of the European firmament against its will."

Unionists "made an offer which sounded big but will be small" in their stylised countersigned "vow" of more devolution on the front page of the Daily Record, Mr Salmond said.

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"It's ironic that the thing that really did for us was the poll showing we were ahead," he said.

"It prompted the 'vow' and that was the tipping point. For the swing voters, being offered power without risk was all it required.

"Putting a promise into a medieval manuscript and calling it a vow to give it a quasi-religious flavour shouldn't be important but it was.

"It was betrayal. It's presentation, not reality. It's still only 30% of tax revenues."

Mr Salmond had an audience with the Queen the day after Mr Cameron was caught on camera discussing her post-referendum reaction with former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Mr Salmond said: "I wouldn't say she was best pleased. That was just dreadful.

"Cameron's a schoolboy. This is a guy showing off because he's with a billionaire. It's pathetic. In fact it's worse than pathetic, it's demeaning."

Reacting to Mr Salmond's comments, Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "The former first minister has broken his word to the Scottish people.

"Alex Salmond said the referendum was a once in a generation opportunity. But now, if he gets his way, another one will be just round the corner. It beggars belief that within weeks of losing the last referendum he is boasting of a victory in the next one.

"I am sure people will be puzzled that Alex Salmond is rubbishing the Smith Commission which is transferring big welfare and tax powers to Scotland. It is odd as his party signed up to the package of powers.

"The SNP took their eye off the ball during the referendum and cancer targets were missed, college places were slashed and hospitals went into crisis. Backing Alex Salmond's plans for another referendum is not in Scotland's interest."

Labour's shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran MP said: "While Alex Salmond repeats his call for another referendum, poverty in Scotland is still too high and the life chances of our children are still determined more by their postcode than their potential.

"Instead of focusing on the fight we've just had, Alex Salmond and the SNP should be talking about how we make Scotland the fairest country on earth and how we can use the powers that we have to tackle poverty and disadvantage."