Scottish independence: We’ll have to put Scottish interests before Westminster - Michael Moore
SCOTTISH members of the coalition government would have to stand down from any post-referendum separation talks if voters back independence next year, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has said.
It would mean that Mr Moore and his Liberal Democrat colleague Danny Alexander, the current Treasury Secretary, along with Tory Scotland Office minister David Mundell, would have to step aside from separation negotiations and instead be “looking out for Scotland”.
The SNP was also told it would face some “pretty tough negotiations” within Scotland from opposition parties about the future direction of the newly independent country, if Scots vote for independence.
The Scottish Secretary revealed at the weekend that the coalition at Westminster would not carry out any exploratory independence talks before the referendum is held.
Mr Moore said yesterday he is “very obviously a Scottish politician whose interests are in Scotland”.
If there was a Yes vote, he indicated that he could not continue in his post and negotiate on behalf of the UK. “I think, for all Scots after that kind of vote, we are looking out for Scotland,” he said. “We want to see the best arrangements for Scotland in the future.”
It means Mr Moore would not then be “prioritising” the interests of England, Wales and Northern Ireland in post- independence negotiations.
“I would not be part of that arrangement. The rest of the UK would then be sitting down and working out what it wanted out of that kind of relationship.
“We cannot opt out of being neighbours – we will have to work and live beside each other in this new post-independence situation.
“In Scotland – and the SNP have said this – they will want to sit down with everyone and work out what it is that Scotland is going to look like in this post-independence world.
“The rest of the UK will do the same. I believe that can be a constructive process.”
But Annabelle Ewing, a member of the Referendum Bill committee at Holyrood, dismissed the Lib Dem minister’s comments. “Michael Moore’s role should always be to act in the interests of Scotland first, which is why his refusal to allow pre-independence discussions is so ridiculous,” she said.
“His comments reveal just how shambolic and negative the No campaign is.”