Alex Salmond last night said he would return to frontline politics as soon as Nicola Sturgeon fires the starting gun for a second independence referendum.
The former First Minister signalled a comeback when he told SNP activists that the Yes movement was “very strong” as a result of the British establishment “fracturing” over Brexit. Addressing activists in the south of Edinburgh, Mr Salmond made what he called a “Morningside declaration” when he suggested he was ready to get back on the indyref campaign trail.
Mr Salmond also claimed the UK government’s refusal to give in to Ms Sturgeon’s demands on the EU powers dispute had made the case for independence “virtually unanswerable”.
He said the row over the repatriation of EU powers had left the ball on the penalty spot “waiting for Nicola Sturgeon to kick it into the net”.
Addressing activists at a meeting of the Morningside SNP branch in the Churchill Theatre, Edinburgh, Mr Salmond claimed the Yes campaign was “very strong”.
He compared today’s movement with that of 2014 when the campaigning only really picked up in the summer before the September vote.
“There is now an energised grassroots movement before the start of the referendum campaign,” Mr Salmond said. When it came to a second referendum, he said the timing was a matter of judgment for Ms Sturgeon.
“I have certainty she will chose that moment, wisely carefully and successfully,” he said.
And as he faces controversy over his chat show on the Kremlin sponsored RT, formerly Russia Today, TV channel, he also talked about his own political future.
“The declaration of Morningside is this,” Mr Salmond said. “I have got no immediate political plans. I’m very happy doing what I’m doing at the present moment. I’m happy writing articles, doing video blogs. I’m happy making television programmes and the rest of it. I’m happy doing the Fringe shows. But the day and the hour that Nicola fires that starting gun I will be on my marks and ready to go for the Yes campaign.”
When asked about Holyrood’s decision to reject the UK government’s EU Withdrawal Bill on the grounds that it undermines devolution, he said the Scottish Parliament was in a “very interesting position”.
He suggested that if the UK government did not respect Holyrood’s will the case for independence was “virtually unanswerable”.
He added that it left the arguments for independence in a “fundamentally strong position with the ball on the penalty spot and waiting for Nicola Sturgeon to kick it into the net”.