Scottish independence: Salmond wants PM debate

ALEX Salmond has pressed David Cameron for a debate on Scottish independence in response to a new poll which suggests English politicians getting involved is more likely to make Scots vote Yes.

A YouGov poll for Sky News prompted Alex Salmond to press for a debate with David Cameron. Picture: Getty

Over two-fifths (43 per cent) of British people think English interventions in the debate will boost the chances of an independent Scotland, a You Gov poll for Sky News has found.

Nearly a third (31 per cent) think English politicians should stay out of the debate, rising to 44 per cent amongst people in Scotland.

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Mr Salmond, Scotland First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, told Sky News: “I’m in favour, actually, of people getting involved.

“The Prime Minister, for example, I think he should get involved but I think he should debate.

“I don’t think he should just come up to Scotland and get involved and go away again.

“Let’s debate First Minister to Prime Minister. Let’s get some real involvement and hopefully that will help people vote Yes.”

Mr Salmond has also said he was surprised by US President Barack Obama’s intervention in the independence debate last week, when he said he wants to ensure the UK remains “strong, robust and united”.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “It was certainly surprising because the American government had made it very clear that they were staying studiously neutral in the democratic referendum that is taking place in Scotland.

“But of course David Cameron has been begging everybody internationally to say anything to help him in his travails at the present moment.

“He’s right to be worried - we had the latest Yes poll at 46 per cent.

“So perhaps on the Richter scale of presidential interventions this was quite mild.’It’s a matter for the folks in Scotland’ and he hopes that the UK will remain ‘strong and united’ as an ally.

“Well if Scotland becomes independent then America will have two allies in these islands, not just one.”

Former SNP defence adviser Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Crawford has claimed that the US would block or delay Scottish Nato membership if it insists on Trident submarines being quickly withdrawn.

“I have spoken to a source close to the White House who said if an independent Scotland were to demand the removal of Trident from the Clyde, Scotland’s accession to Nato would either be blocked or delayed for a very long time,” he told the Sunday Times.

But Mr Salmond said it “wouldn’t be realistic” to keep nuclear weapons in an independent Scotland.

“If the rest of the UK wants to retain a nuclear capability then they can do so,” he told Andrew Marr.

“I think they would be very unwise to do so, incidentally, but it wouldn’t be realistic to have nuclear weapons stationed in Scotland after independence.”

His comments come on the eve of the 100 day countdown to the independence referendum, which will give Scotland an opportunity “to address the economic and social challenges it faces”, according to Mr Salmond.

“Tomorrow marks the start of that countdown to what will be one of the most exciting and historic days this nation has ever seen,” he said.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is calling on party activists and pro-union campaigners to make a positive case for a “stronger Scottish parliament which stays in the UK family” over the summer.

He said: “With 100 days until the referendum, Liberal Democrats have a golden opportunity to loudly state our case for home rule for Scotland in a federal United Kingdom.