Scotland's referendum: Salmond says independence will benefit whole UK

Alex Salmond said independence would "rebalance the economic centre of gravity" across the UK

An independent Scotland with a strong economy would benefit the whole of the UK, First Minister Alex Salmond has told a gathering in London.

In his New Statesman lecture the SNP leader said a post-Yes Scotland would help "rebalance the economic centre of gravity" across the UK.

Scotland Office minister David Mundell dismissed Mr Salmond's address.

On 18 September voters will be asked the "yes/no" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Mr Salmond said he believed that an independent Scotland would be a "powerful economic counterweight to London", and that would benefit the rest of the UK.

He told his audience: "There's a growing realisation that wealth and opportunities are too concentrated, geographically and socially. UK government policies are working for too few, and denying opportunities to too many. Britain is imbalanced.

Start Quote

We share ties of family and friendship, trade and commerce, history and culture, which have never depended on a parliament here at Westminster”

End Quote Alex Salmond First Minister

"After Scottish independence, the growth of a strong economic power in the north of these islands would benefit everyone - our closest neighbours in the north of England more than anyone.

"There would be a 'Northern Light' to redress the influence of the 'dark star' - rebalancing the economic centre of gravity of these islands."

Mr Salmond renewed his criticism of Chancellor George Osborne for suggesting Scotland would be a "foreign" country if voters backed independence.

He said: "Scotland will not be a foreign country after independence, any more than Ireland, Northern Ireland, England or Wales could ever be foreign countries to Scotland.

"We share ties of family and friendship, trade and commerce, history and culture, which have never depended on a parliament here at Westminster, and will endure and flourish long after independence.

"But the current 'Dambusters' rhetoric has betrayed an attitude as antiquated as it is unacceptable.

"From the myopic perspective of the Westminster elite, Scotland is last among equals."

'Love-bombed'

He also claimed Mr Osborne's recent speech on sterling was "a monumental error".

Start Quote

No one should be under any illusion that voting for independence means getting independence, which means becoming a new country outside the UK”

End Quote David Mundell Scotland Office minister

Last month, Mr Osborne ruled out a formal currency union with an independent Scotland, a position that was backed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, had previously called on people elsewhere in the UK to urge Scots to vote against independence.

Mr Salmond said: "In the last three weeks people in Scotland have seen an array of approaches from the UK government - what they apparently call their 'Dambusters strategy'.

"We were love-bombed from a distance by David Cameron, then dive-bombed at close range by George Osborne.

"I believe George Osborne's speech on sterling three weeks ago - his 'sermon on the pound' - will come to be seen as a monumental error.

"It encapsulates the diktats from on high which are not the strength of the Westminster elite, but rather their fundamental weakness.

"In contrast, we will seek to engage with the people of England on the case for progressive reform."

'New country'

But Tory MP Mr Mundell said that Mr Salmond was saying that a choice to leave the UK and become independent "means staying exactly the same as we are now".

He added: "By definition, that simply cannot happen.

"No one should be under any illusion that voting for independence means getting independence, which means becoming a new country outside the UK.

"Scotland will also be a foreign country, in law as well as in practice.

"This desperate claim from the first minister suggests he is confused by his own independence policy or he is deliberately trying to confuse others."

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