Theresa May is due to visit Scotland tomorrow and the former First Minister of Scotland had a few words of advice for the new leader.
Alex Salmond has warned Theresa May: “Don’t mess with the people of Scotland,” as he predicted Scottish independence is inevitable.
The former first minister said the new Prime Minister will cave under pressure from Holyrood for another independence referendum if Nicola Sturgeon decides that is the best way to protect Scotland’s place in the European Union.
Mr Salmond’s warning comes ahead of Theresa May’s meeting with Nicola Sturgeon on Friday morning in Edinburgh.
The pair are expected to discuss June’s referendum in which the UK voted to leave the EU but Scotland did not.
Mr Salmond, now the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman, said another referendum would have to be held within two years of the commencement of the Article 50 talks for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
He likened Mrs May’s hard-line position against Scottish independence to Margaret Thatcher, who he said “wasn’t known as a friend of Scotland”.
He told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Lateline programme: “I think independence for Scotland is inevitable.
“It may well be that the conclusion from Nicola Sturgeon’s talks and negotiations is that independence is the only way to protect Scotland’s position.”
Theresa May has been very hard-line in her opposition to Scottish aspirations, a bit like Margaret Thatcher - she wasn’t known as a friend of Scotland.Alex Salmond
Asked if the UK Government has to approve another referendum, he said: “The mechanism, really, is for the Scottish Parliament to decide to do it.
“Theresa May has been very hard-line in her opposition to Scottish aspirations, a bit like the previous Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher all those years ago - she wasn’t known as a friend of Scotland.
“Theresa May has got a lot of work to do but, believe me, telling the people of Scotland that their own parliament can’t hold a national referendum on independence would be an extremely bad and extremely short-term move for Theresa May to make.
“If I could offer some advice on her first full day in the job: Don’t mess with the people of Scotland.”
He said the countdown to Indyref2 would start when Mrs May invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - the triggering clause to begin a formal two-year period for the UK’s EU withdrawal.
He said: “If Nicola Sturgeon comes to the conclusion that the only way to protect Scotland’s position in Europe is through independence, and if she then goes to the Scottish Parliament to get backing for that option, then it would have to be within that two-year period.”
He added: “Let’s be quite clear about this. I had dealings with the previous prime minister David Cameron, and he said ‘no, you can’t have a referendum’, but as soon as we had a majority in the Scottish Parliament he backed down.
“If that came to pass, if that was the situation at the end of the negotiations, then exactly the same thing will happen with Theresa May