Salmond casts net wide for independence negotiators

SNP leader appeals for figures from across world to join 'Team Scotland'. Picture: Hemedia
SNP leader appeals for figures from across world to join 'Team Scotland'. Picture: Hemedia
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Alex Salmond has already started assembling the team that will negotiate Scottish independence in the event of a Yes vote in September’s referendum.

The First Minister said his “Team Scotland” will include experts from around the world and figures from outside politics, with many people already having been approached.

In a keynote speech in his Aberdeenshire constituency today, Mr Salmond will say: “The response has been universally positive.”

He will also appeal for pro-Union supporters to get involved if Scotland vote Yes on 
18 September.

The First Minister’s speech marks the 15th anniversary of the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament today, and in it he will warn that the achievements of devolution must be protected from attacks from Westminster.

In the speech in Inverurie, Mr Salmond will also say that Scotland will open talks about leaving the UK within days of a Yes vote.

“The independence team will secure expertise from across the political spectrum and beyond, and from Scotland and beyond, to begin talks with Westminster before the end of this September, marking the point at which the real negotiations will begin.

“I understand that people on the other side of the political debate cannot accept that at the moment, but hope and expect that they will be fully part of the Team Scotland approach once the votes have been cast.

“It is also the case that a number of people outside party politics – but with key expertise – have already been approached and the response has been universally positive.

“More clearly than anything else, this demonstrates the wish of those of us on the Yes side to move forward in a consensual way once the people have spoken.”

In his address, the First Minister will hail Holyrood’s achievements, including free personal and nursing care for the elderly, the abolition of student fees, free prescriptions and poverty levels below that of the UK.

But he will also say: “Today we are more aware than ever that these great advances cannot be taken for granted and need to be protected. Westminster assaults on the fabric of social security threaten to reverse the gains in child poverty, while Labour in Scotland has attacked the social wage policies of free healthcare and higher education tuition.”

Mr Salmond’s pledge to be consensual after the referendum result followed plans announced by the Church of Scotland for a service of reconciliation after a Yes vote, in an effort to ease tensions across Scotland.

The First Minister’s call today will come as one of Scottish Labour’s most senior figures urges Nationalists to help devise a new era of devolution in the event of a No vote.

Labour’s Douglas Alexander will call on the SNP to join talks on the future of devolution in the event of a No vote.

Mr Alexander will speak at an event in Edinburgh to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of former Labour leader John Smith.

He will say that the aftermath of the referendum will leave one side devastated, whatever the outcome.

He has suggested that a cross-party constitutional convention could be established to examine strengthening Holyrood.

“If Scotland votes to stay with its neighbours, I would urge those who voted Yes to then choose to join us to work together in the task of making devolution work, not proving devolution wrong,” Mr Alexander will say.

“Indeed, I believe that the choice to stay together will create an opportunity for politicians to lay the ground for a way of doing politics differently.

“Elsewhere, I have argued that the establishment of a national convention could be one way to chart a new course for an old nation.

“Others will have other ideas, but the tasks of bringing together a divided nation will be real, urgent and important.”


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