Scotland politics

Salmond confident on post-Brexit indyref2

Alex Salmond
Image caption Alex Salmond said 'Yes' voters would win a second referendum on independence

Alex Salmond has said a second independence referendum can be won, despite current polls suggesting a minority of Scots in favour.

The former first minister said moves by the UK government to "sever" Scotland's links with Europe would see previously sceptical voters switch sides.

His comments come as the Scottish government prepares to publish its post-Brexit plans.

Opponents accused Mr Salmond of "sabre-rattling".

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland programme, the MP for Gordon said Nicola Sturgeon would have no "compunction" about holding another poll.

He said: "The last time, when I was first minister and embarked on this process, support for independence was 28% and after two years in 2012 we ended up at 45%. So I don't think Nicola Sturgeon would have any compunction about calling an independence referendum with support in the mid 40s.

"What it depends upon is the arguments, and in a situation where the United Kingdom government was determined, despite being given every opportunity, to sever Scotland's European links, to sever our ties - a thousand-year-old European nation - then I think that would bring many people who were previously sceptical about independence on to the 'Yes' side."

He denied that voter appetite for another vote on the issue had diminished since the last poll in 2014.

'Powers of persuasion'

"I think there's a lot of people with an open mind about Scottish independence", he said.

"Certainly there are people who are passionately in favour, there are people who are strongly against, but there are still lots of folk in Scotland who regard Scotland's prosperity - securing Scotland's position as a European nation, the rights of Scottish workers, the equal treatment of our fellow Europeans, access to the single market place, as a member as key priorities - which, if they could only be maintained and claimed by independence, could be persuaded to vote in that direction, with careful argument and all the powers of persuasion that Nicola Sturgeon has over the next two years."

Asked by interviewer Gordon Brewer: "And you think you would win?" Mr Salmond replied: "Yes I do".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Salmond said people could be persuaded to back independence following Brexit

The Scottish Conservatives' constitution spokesman, Adam Tomkins said the comments showed the SNP was only operating in its own political interests.

He said: "Scots don't want to go through another divisive independence referendum but Alex Salmond today repeated the SNP's threat to press ahead regardless.

"As we begin negotiations to leave the EU, we need a Scottish government that ends the sabre-rattling, and focuses instead on the national interest, not its own political interest.

"As she publishes her paper this week, it is vital that Nicola Sturgeon shows she is prepared to be a first minister for Scotland, not a first minister for the SNP."

Draft legislation

Scottish Labour's Europe spokesman, Lewis Macdonald said: "Alex Salmond gave the game away when he made it clear that the Nationalists are only really interested in finding an excuse to impose another referendum on the people of Scotland.

"The UK is Scotland's most important single market. The SNP's own figures confirm that remaining part of the UK single market is more important for Scotland's economy than even being in the EU.

"It's time for the SNP to accept that remaining in the UK is even more important to Scotland than being part of the European Union."

The Scottish government published draft legislation for a second independence referendum in October.

It followed Nicola Sturgeon's assertion that a new referendum was "highly likely" after the UK's vote to leave the EU in June. Scotland voted by 62% to 38% to remain in the EU.

Voters in Scotland rejected independence by 55% to 45% in the last referendum, held on 18 September 2014.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Scottish voters backed remaining in the UK by 55% to 45% in the 2014 independence referendum

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