Alex Salmond says EU speech ‘completely changes’ independence vote

Alex Salmond used his speech to criticise welfare reforms. Picture: TSPL
Alex Salmond used his speech to criticise welfare reforms. Picture: TSPL
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ALEX Salmond has claimed David Cameron’s pledge for an in-out referendum on EU membership “completely changes the nature of the debate” over the Scottish independence vote in 2014, as he warned the Prime Minister he had “confused” people over the country’s future in Europe.

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s call today, the First Minister said the pro-UK parties claim that Scottish independence would cause uncertainty had been holed by the fact that the UK now faces the prospect of a four year long run-in to a UK-wide referendum on the EU.

It comes after pro-UK business figures in Scotland have warned that the long run-in to the Scottish independence referendum will delay investment decisions here.

Mr Salmond said: “This was a fundamentally confused speech by the Prime Minister which is painfully short on detail.”

He added: “On the one hand he is trying to appease the Eurosceptics on his own backbenches and on the other he is trying to appear as a European reformer. He is trying to ride two horses at the same time and it is inevitable he will fall off before long.”

“This completely changes the nature of the debate in Scotland. The Westminster parties have consistently claimed that a referendum on Scotland’s independence causes uncertainty.

“It is now clear the persistent undercurrent of Tory Euroscepticism poses the biggest threat to Scotland’s position in the EU and has now helped to hole below the waterline the baseless scaremongering of Alistair Darling and the rest of the No campaign.”

The SNP Government does not favour an EU referendum in Scotland. SNP figures say their own preference would be for Scotland to vote for independence in 2014, after which they would seek to negotiate the country’s own membership of the EU.

They would not then plan to hold a referendum on that negotiated deal afterwards.

However, Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson has backed the idea of putting the question of EU membership to Scots

said: “We have no fear of putting it to the people of Scotland to choose their preferred relationship within the EU, just as we are happy they will get their say on whether Scotland is to separate from the rest of the UK in the forthcoming referendum.”

She went on: “We recognise that people have concerns about the current arrangement between the UK and our European partners and it’s only right they get to cast their vote on what that future relationship should be.”