ALEX Salmond has warned that Scots will vote for independence if the UK Government blocks move for a stand-alone Holyrood deal on Brexit.
The former First Minister insists that if UK ministers “refuse to listen” to Scotland’s proposals to remain in the EU single market, it will trigger an independence referendum in two years which would deliver a Yes vote.
The Scottish Government will set out its Brexit strategy on Tuesday. It will include calls for new powers for Holyrood which could pave the way for a stand alone Scottish deal on single market membership. Controls over immigration and employment rights and business regulation will be among the measures that will be set out by Nicola Sturgeon when she sets out the options on Tuesday.
It will call on the UK to remain in the EU single market, but if this cannot be done and a separate Scottish deal is proposed. If this is ruled out by Westminster, then Scottish independence would be delivered in two years, Salmond said.
“In a situation where a United Kingdom government was determined - despite being given every opportunity - to sever Scotland’s European links, to sever our ties as a thousand year old European nation, then I think that would bring many people who were previously sceptical about independence onto the Yes side,” Mr Salmond told BBC’s Sunday Politics show.
“There’s a lot of people with an open mind about Scottish independence. Certainly I think there are people who are passionately in favour and people who are strongly against.
“But there are still lots of folk in Scotland who would regard Scotland’s prosperity, securing Scotland’s position as a European nation and 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 over the next two years.”
Mr Salmond pointed to weekend polling which showed that two-thirds of Scots wanted to maintain Scotland’s place in the single market and put that above the control of immigration.
“What we’re seeing is a variety of indications about a clarion call for Scotland to make its way as a European nation,” he said.
“In the absence of any alternative to secure that position I think would be a strong position to debate the independence issue.”
Ms Sturgeon will become the first UK leader to publish a formal strategy on how to respond to the Brexit vote.
The referendum in June saw 62 per cent of Scots vote to remain in the EU, but the UK voted to leave the Brussels bloc on the strength of votes from south of the border.
Ms Sturgeon said at the weekend that leaving the EU single market will have “profound consequences” for Scotland’s economy and society and retaining Scotland’s membership of this institution will be “at the heart” of her strategy on Tuesday. The Scottish Government’s starting point is for the UK to remain in the EU single market.
But she added: “If that is not possible, then we will also be outlining ways in which this could be achieved for Scotland even if the rest of the UK leaves.
“Doing so will involve the devolution of new powers to Edinburgh.
“But regardless of what happens with the single market, there are further powers being repatriated from Brussels which should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. It would add insult to injury if being dragged out of the EU were to be accompanied by a Westminster power grab.”