Salmond claims time is ripe for second referendum push

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond
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Alex Salmond last night called on independence supporters to exploit the “disorientation and chaos” of the British establishment, claiming the timing has never been better for another referendum push.

The former first minister said indyref2 should be held “at the point of a hard Brexit”, signalling, he believes, a vote could be held as soon as 2019 when the UK is scheduled to leave the EU.

Addressing activists at the Scottish Independence Convention, Salmond said an independent Scotland should aim for European Free Trade Association (EFTA) membership.

Speaking to an audience of around 1,600 in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, he confirmed that he now believed EFTA membership was the best approach post independence, a change of stance from his original proposal for an independent Scotland to be in the EU.

He also said that in retrospect he now believed his 2014 Independence White Paper was too detailed and should have been more visionary. Salmond said the correct position to go into another referendum would be arguing for EFTA membership.

“If that were to be decided, that dictates the timing of the referendum,” he said. “In that case the referendum must be, should be, held at the point of a hard Brexit or at the point of a transitional period beyond a hard Brexit. That would be the obvious, logical time to hold it.”

Earlier this year First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was forced to “reset” her second referendum plans following a public backlash to her post-Brexit proposal to have one between autumn next year and spring 2019. Salmond suggested the weakness of Theresa May’s administration was another reason to strike while the iron was hot.

“Understand the weakness of our opponents,” he said. “I have been active in politics for 30-years. I’ve never seen the British state in a state of more disorientation and chaos.

“They are Johnny no mates in Europe. Not a single friend across the continent. The structures of Westminster politics are decaying before our eyes. This is a matter not just of our strength but their weakness. That also dictates the timing of the campaign. That is another factor for us to consider. I would say the timing has never been better for the national cause in Scotland.”