Independent Scotland to negotiate future in Europe within the EU - Salmond

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Alex Salmond insisted an independent Scotland would negotiate its future in Europe from within the EU and that the Irish Europe affairs minister had said that position was "entirely satisfactory", during first minister's questions on 31 January 2013.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont had raised the issue of comments by the Irish Europe Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton on the issue of EU membership.

Ms Lamont said: "When we have said an independent Scotland would have to apply to join the European Union and that those negotiations could take time we have been accused by the first minister of scaremongering, when the Irish European Affairs Minister says an independent Scotland would have to apply to the EU and the negotiations could be lengthy and complex what is she guilty of?"

Mr Salmond said: "I really do recommend that Johann Lamont reads the information from the Irish European Minister, what she said of course, looking at the SNP timetable for negotiating our position from within the European Union, from a yes vote in the referendum to the independence election in 2016, she regarded that position as entirely satisfactory."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson called on the first minister to name the exact date of the independence referendum asking why he would not do so.

Mr Salmond replied: "That would be introduced to parliament with the bill which comes into parliament in March" and went on to say that process was "entirely reasonable".

At the beginning of first minister's questions Mr Salmond announced plans for 2,016 more apprentices by the 2016.

He said Microsoft UK, working in partnership with others, would guarantee the new posts.

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