SNP leader refuses to confirm whether more party resignations expected over NATO policy
ALEX SALMOND has refused to say whether he expects any other MSPs to leave the SNP just a day after two politicians quit the party at Holyrood as the fallout from the crisis continued to grip the nationalists.
• John Finnie and Jean Urquhart resigned from SNP over Nato and will sit as independents
• Dissenting nationalists view party accepting Nato being as being at odds with its anti-nuclear weapons policy
Mr Salmond took the highly unusual step of attending the group meeting of SNP MSPs at Holyrood this afternoon following the resignation of Highland MSPs John Finnie and Jean Urquhart over the party ditching its long-standing opposition to Nato.
The SNP leader spent an hour speaking to the meeting normally attended mainly by backbenchers, with other senior cabinet ministers such as Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, health secretary Alex Neil and education secretary Michael Russell also there.
Mr Salmond, when asked by The Scotsman whether he expected more resignations. said: “it was a very excellent meeting”. He also refused to say whether he had had managed to convince MSPs reported to be unhappy about the SNP dropping its opposition to Nato not to resign.
Education secretary Michael Russell was more committal when asked if he expected any more resignations.
He replied “no” and shook his head.
The meeting was attended by SNP MSPs who opposed the policy shift on Nato such as John Wilson, Rob Gibson and Jamie Hepburn.
The First Minister attended the meeting, where applause could be heard from SNP backbenchers, just a day after he was accused by Labour of misleading the public over an independent Scotland’s European Union membership.
Ms Sturgeon told Holyrood on Tuesday that specific legal advice had just been commissioned on whether an independent Scotland would automatically be admitted to the EU.
However, Labour MSPs claimed that was a lie because Mr Salmond had revealed in a BBC interview earlier this year that advice had been sought by the Scottish government.
Mr Salmond denied he had lied and accused Labour MSPs of selective quoting.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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