Alex Salmond hints he will DROP referendum plan as he rages at SNP’s ‘pigeon-holed’ plot

Scotland’s former First Minister launched the newly-formed Alba Party last week ahead of the Scottish election on May 6. He has said if there is an independence supermajority in Holyrood following that election in five weeks’ time, parliament should instruct the Scottish Government to begin talks with Westminster. Mr Salmond added during those negotiations, Boris Johnson’s Government may need a referendum or consultation to confirm independence is the will of the Scottish people.

Scotland’s First Minister was asked about the path to Scottish independence after a successful Holyrood election for his Alba Party.

In a swipe at the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon, he replied: “I don’t think that the pigeon-holing of this debate into a Section 30 referendum or a public consultation or a ballot elsewhere is either straightforward with the people or the way to proceed which has the statecraft required to get a result from Westminster.

“I don’t think you should tell in advance your negotiating opponent what you’re going to do or the time scale you intend to do it on.

“I think you should begin negotiations and those negotiations have an infinitely higher chance of succeeding if the First Minister has a substantial independence majority in the parliament at her back, than they would have if she was in a precarious parliamentary position with regard to independence.”

He added: “Pigeon-holing yourself into one route and one time scale has limitations over the advantages of taking the substantial independence supermajority in the parliament and taking direction from that and taking the parliament instead of a single party in the drive to independence in Scotland.”

Mr Salmond, who as First Minister led the Scottish independence campaign ahead of the unsuccessful referendum in May 2014, previously urged Ms Sturgeon to “put aside personal differences” and work with him again towards the “noble cause” of Scottish independence.

He had insisted if a “supermajority” for independence could be achieved at the upcoming election with the help of his own Alba Party, it could transform the balance of power between Holyrood and Westminster.

But speaking on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon told Channel 4 News: “I am not planning to work with Alex Salmond.”

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Scotland voted against independence in 2014 by a margin of 55 percent and 45 percent, and Prime Minister Mr Johnson has continued to refuse to transfer the powers to Holyrood needed to hold another referendum.

During her opening address, Ms Sturgeon spoke about what the SNP would do for Scotland if they are re-elected, and said: “When the (Covid) crisis has passed, a choice on independence – so that decisions about our future lie here in Scotland, not with Boris Johnson at Westminster.”

But those comments from the First Minister came under attack from Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who raged: “We can’t have a recovery and a referendum.”

He said the focus must be on rebuilding Scotland and hit out at the SNP, accusing them of wanting to “take us through another divisive independence referendum”.

Mr Ross continued: “Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed she would want a referendum in the next two years, the next two years, when we are still dealing with this health pandemic.

“When we’re still trying to recover our economy, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed to everyone tonight that the SNP will take us forward into another independence referendum if they get that majority.”

“The Scottish Conservatives want to stop them. The future of our country is at stake.”

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