Scotland politics

Salmond says May's indyref2 position will 'crumble'

Alex Salmond
Image caption Alex Salmond told Andrew Marr that Theresa May's position on a second Scottish independence referendum would "crumble"

Alex Salmond has predicted Theresa May's position on a second Scottish independence referendum will "crumble".

It follows comments from the UK prime minister that "now is not the time" for another vote to take place.

Speaking on the BBC One's Andrew Marr programme, the former first minister was unwilling to be drawn on whether an advisory referendum should be held.

An advisory referendum could be held without the consent of Mrs May, but would not be binding.

When asked if there would be such a referendum, Mr Salmond said: "I leave these matters to the person responsible, that's the first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon.

"The Theresa May line that now is not the time is not going to stand.

"Back in the day, I remember David Cameron telling me there wasn't going to be a Scottish referendum but that didn't last against the democratic wishes of the Scottish people and the Scottish Parliament and neither will the Theresa May line.

"It won't necessarily crumble either today or tomorrow or next week, but over the next few months that line will crumble."

He added: "Remember self-determination delayed, like justice, is self-determination denied and it just won't stand politically. So my predication is that the Theresa May position will crumble over time."

Image caption Murdo Fraser said it was "ironic" the SNP would prioritise a bill that was not "competent"

Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed talk of taking court action or holding a snap election to break the deadlock over a second vote on Scottish independence.

She has called for the poll to be held before Spring 2019 or when there is clarity on the deal that will see the UK withdraw from the EU.

The first minister maintains that it is then that Scots should be able to chose between a future UK outside Europe or an independent Scotland.

However, the prime minister has repeatedly said that the focus of Brexit negotiations should be on getting the best deal for the whole of the UK.

'Recruiting sergeant'

In response to suggestions that the Scottish government could hold an advisory vote, the Scottish Conservatives finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: "It's deeply ironic that a government which hasn't passed a single substantial bill since the election may prioritise one that isn't competent.

"This isn't the kind of plan any responsible political leader would seek to take, especially over something as serious as a nation's future.

"Less than three years since the last referendum, now is not the time to go back to more division and uncertainty over Scotland's future.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption MEPs from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Greece and Malta signed the letter

"The first minister must stop the games and begin to act for the whole country, not as a recruiting sergeant for an independence campaign most people don't want."

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the SNP's case for another independence referendum was "increasingly feeble" given their refusal to guarantee EU membership.

He said: "The SNP can't use the Brexit vote to claim a mandate for another referendum when they refuse to say that they would take us back in. It shows that the EU was just an excuse and that it has only ever been about independence for the SNP.

"The SNP are using EU supporters to push for a referendum but will sell them out to get independence. They would risk Scotland being out of both single markets which would be a disaster".

MEP's letter

In a separate development, a cross-party group of 50 senior European politicians have pledged their "full support" for an independent Scotland's membership of the EU in a letter to the Scottish Parliament's Presiding Officer Ken MacIntosh.

The MEPs and parliamentarians from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Greece and Malta, say "Scotland would be most welcome as a full member of the European Union" if Scotland votes for independence and pledged to make the process "swift, smooth and orderly as possible".

The European politicians criticised the UK government for pursuing a hard Brexit, and for refusing to "properly take into account the preferences of Scottish citizens in the withdrawal process".

They said they recognised that "Scotland voted strongly to remain in the EU" and that now "the question of Scotland's constitutional future, and your relationships with the UK and EU, are for the people of Scotland to decide."

The letter was an initiative of Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer and German Green MEP Terry Reintke.

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