29/01/2012 06:10 GMT

Alex Salmond Says UK 'Would Be Maintained' After Independence Because Of The Queen

Alex Salmond has rejected suggestions that voters should be asked in the referendum on Scottish independence if they want to leave the United Kingdom.

The Scottish First Minister said introducing the UK into the question would "confuse the issue" because the country would retain the Queen as head of state after breaking the political union.

Some critics have argued that his preferred question - Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country? - is skewed in favour of securing a positive response.

But Mr Salmond insists it is clear and decisive, and is supported by people including electoral expert Matt Qvortrup of Cranfield University.

Talks between the governments in London and Edinburgh due to take place last week were postponed after Scottish Secretary Michael Moore caught chicken pox. There are several areas of controversy, including whether or not 16 and 17 year-old Scots should be able to vote. The SNP privately believe that giving these teenagers a vote could tip the result in their favour.

Mr Salmond responded to suggestions on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that voters should be asked if they want to leave the UK instead.

The First Minister said: "It is SNP policy to have the Queen as our head of state.

"That union, that United Kingdom if you like, would be maintained after Scottish political independence.

"I think that's a real stumbling block about putting forward a question of the United Kingdom."

Asked if that meant Scotland could still be regarded as being in the UK after independence, Mr Salmond said: "I don't think it's a very good idea to confuse the issue by talking about united kingdoms when what we're talking about is political independence."

The Scottish and English crowns were united in 1603 by James VI of Scotland. Political union followed in 1707.