SNP conference: ‘Salmond will debate independence’

Alex Salmond will debate independence with Alistair Darling and Alistair Carmichael, Nicola Sturgeon has said. Picture: PA
Alex Salmond will debate independence with Alistair Darling and Alistair Carmichael, Nicola Sturgeon has said. Picture: PA
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Alex Salmond will debate independence with both the leader of the No campaign and the new Secretary of State for Scotland, SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon has said.

There is “no question” that Mr Salmond will debate with Better Together chief Alistair Darling and Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael between now and the referendum, Ms Sturgeon told the BBC’s Daily Politics show.

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But Ms Sturgeon reiterated that the First Minister’s main target is Prime Minister David Cameron whom Mr Salmond has repeatedly lobbied to take part in a live televised debate.

Ms Sturgeon did not say whether the debates with Mr Darling and Mr Carmichael would be televised.

When asked to give a commitment that Mr Salmond would debate with Alistair Carmichael, Alistair Darling or both, she replied: “I am sure that between now and the referendum Alex Salmond will debate with both of those people and many others, making the positive case for independence. There is no issue or question about that.

“The real question is why will David Cameron not agree to debate with Alex Salmond? What is he running scared of? That is the unanswered question.

“I’ve already debated with Alistair Darling. I’ve debated with Michael Moore. Alex Salmond will debate with lots of people between now and the referendum, but the first and foremost point here is that there should be that debate between the First Minister and the Prime Minister.

“Alex Salmond wants to debate the Prime Minister. I think that’s right and proper. This is a debate about a transfer of powers from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament. Surely it’s right and proper that the leader of the Scottish Government debates with the leader of the UK Government.”

Better Together claimed Ms Sturgeon’s comments are a “U-turn”.

A spokesman said: “It is good news that Nicola Sturgeon has finally confirmed that Alex Salmond has backed down and will now have a live TV debate with Alistair Darling. Now that both sides have agreed, it’s time for the campaigns to get on and make this happen.”

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