Salmond pledges to put differences aside to work with Sturgeon on referendum

Former first minister of Scotland Alex Salmond has said he will put his differences with Nicola Sturgeon aside and work with the SNP’s leader to achieve a second independence referendum.

Speaking to Sky News’ Beth Rigby Interviews programme, Mr Salmond said another referendum on whether Scotland should leave the UK is “a no-ifs-no-buts commitment now” and that he believes it will happen “by October of 2023”.

Earlier this week, Scotland’s current First Minister Ms Sturgeon unveiled what she said was a “refreshed” case for independence.

In a paper, called ‘Independence in the Modern World. Wealthier, Happier, Fairer: Why Not Scotland’, she said her government has an “indisputable mandate” for a second independence referendum and that Scotland must “forge a way forward” to ensure the poll takes place.

Politics Hub: Lord Geidt ‘had a pretty rough grilling by MPs’, says Raab

She insisted that the SNP won last May’s election with a “clear commitment to give the people of Scotland the choice of becoming an independent country”.

“If we are to uphold democracy here in Scotland, we must forge a way forward if necessary without a Section 30 order,” the first minister said.

But Downing Street has repeatedly said that now is not the time for another independence referendum.

Mr Salmond, now the leader of the Alba Party in Scotland, has been in at odds with the Scottish government in recent years – led by the first minister – over its handling of harassment allegations against him.

Last year he claimed former colleagues in the party he once led tried to remove him from public life and even have him put in jail.

Mr Salmond said senior officials in the SNP and Scottish government were involved in a “malicious and concerted effort” to damage his reputation and alleged that the current first minister broke the ministerial code.

In return, Ms Sturgeon accused him of creating an “alternative reality”.

Launching the SNP’s campaign for the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2021, Ms Sturgeon launched a thinly-veiled attack on her predecessor.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sturgeon says people are suffering from Brexit that ‘we did not vote for’

“I don’t have much time these days for the ‘who’s up/who’s down” approach to politics. And I definitely have much less patience for those who treat politics like a game – and for indulging anyone who puts self-interest ahead of the country’s best interests,” she said.

But speaking to Sky News, Mr Salmond said he now believes Ms Sturgeon is the “inevitable” person to lead the campaign for a second Scottish independence referendum, adding that he would share a platform with her to ensure this was a success.

“To the second part of your question, in terms of being the right person, she’s the inevitable person to lead the campaign,” he said.

“She’s the head of the Scottish government. The Scottish government have a prime role in the independence referendum.”

Asked if the personal animosity between the pair has now been cleared up, the former first minister replied that personal differences between himself and Ms Sturgeon are “insignificant compared to the national cause of Scotland becoming independent”.

“I don’t think you would find any personal difficulties coming in the way of something which is much bigger, much greater than any two individuals,” he added.

Mr Salmond has previously said the creation of his new pro-independence party Alba is designed to build a “super-majority” for a second referendum.

He told Sky News that he takes the Scottish government’s word that this vote will happen before the next general election.

“It’s a no ifs, no buts commitment now that there’s going to be a referendum by October of next year. So the national movement, Scotland, I’m looking forward to taking part in that referendum,” Mr Salmond said.

He added that it is “right and proper to make the point that other small European countries are doing much better than UK is doing economically” and that he is “pleased that the starting gun has eventually been fired” by the SNP setting out their proposed moves towards securing a second independence poll.