New Scottish independence vote 'inevitable' says ex-leader

New Scottish independence vote 'inevitable' says ex-leader
Alex Salmond from the former Scottish National Party
PHOTO: Reuters

LONDON - Former Scottish nationalist leader Alex Salmond said Sunday that another referendum on independence from the United Kingdom was "inevitable" because of policies pursued by Prime Minister David Cameron's government in London.

"I think a second independence referendum is inevitable," Salmond told the BBC, although he would not say when.

Salmond resigned as leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and first minister of the devolved government in Edinburgh after Scots voted "no" to independence by 55 to 45 percent in September.

But nationalist feeling has soared in Scotland since then, and in May's general election the SNP won 56 out of 59 Scottish seats in the House of Commons, making them the third largest party after the main opposition Labour party.

"I can see three issues which are moving things towards a second referendum, on a timescale yet to be determined," said Salmond, who is still an MP.

The first was the "refusal to deliver the vow", Cameron's promise of more powers to the Scottish government that was widely credited with swinging the independence vote.

"The vow was about home rule, devo (devolution) to the max, near federalism to quote (former prime minister) Gordon Brown. That has not been delivered as yet, at least in the Scotland Bill," Salmond said.

The pro-European politician also repeated concerns about the forthcoming in-out referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, which Cameron has promised to hold by 2017.

"If you had a situation, a circumstance where Scotland voted to stay in the European Union in the referendum but was dragged out by the votes of the people of England, then that would be a material change in circumstances," Salmond said.

He also warned about the continued austerity drive by Cameron's Conservative government.

"Instead of getting devo to the max we're getting austerity to the max, and that divergent view of what's right in social terms between Scotland and England is another issue which is moving things towards a referendum," Salmond said.

He stressed the question of a second independence vote was up to new SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, but it is likely to feature in next year's elections for the Scottish parliament.

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