'Good time' for Scottish Government to pressure UK Government on indyref, says Alex Salmond

The former First Minister said the Scottish Government has to ‘fire the starting gun’ to run the race towards an independence referendum.

This week, the Scottish Government is expected to publish what the First Minister’s official spokesperson described as a ‘scene setter’ document on its vision towards an independent Scotland.

It will be the first piece of a larger body of work undertaken by civil servants under the request of the Scottish Government after Ms Sturgeon made the pledge to deliver an independence referendum by the end of 2023.

However, there is no indication yet of when the Scottish Government will introduce its legislation for holding a vote.

Alba party leader Alex Salmond leaves BBC Broadcasting House in London as he said now is a 'good time' to move forward with Scottish independence (Photo: Yui Mok, PA).

There has also been no answer from the Scottish Government over whether the Scottish Parliament can legislate without a transfer of power.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Alex Salmond, the former SNP First Minister and leader of the Alba party, said he believed it is currently a “good time” to put pressure on the Westminster government during Boris Johnson’s “difficulties”.

Mr Salmond said: "I’m delighted that the Scottish Government is now going to publish papers which adjust the case for independence that take account of all the developments in the world since 2014.

"I’m not certain why all this work couldn’t have been done over the last five years but nonetheless I am glad we are about to see the fruits of the civil service labour.”

Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson told MSPs this week the SNP has no plans to delay or postpone an independence vote by the end of 2023.

However, the MSP refused to say whether £20 million allocated for a second independence referendum would be redeployed to other services if a vote is delayed or cancelled.

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Asked why there has been a delay on a bill establishing the mechanisms for a second independence referendum, Mr Salmond said: “Presumably, the Scottish Government are worried that Boris Johnson is going to say no but I’d have thought you’d have to kick off that campaign.

“If you know he is going to say no you have to let him say no and then do something about it. It’s not really a strategy by just not asking the question. You have to ask the question if you are to mobilise a political campaign.

"If you are going to run a race, you have to fire the starting gun."

Mr Salmond said there will be 'no problem' with unity within the independence movement once the “starting gun is fired”, saying: “The elements of disagreements within independence campaigns are people’s doubts and question marks over when we are going to have that referendum or electoral test next year. But that’s been promised, no ifs, no buts, so let’s go forward on that basis.”

Mr Salmond said he was confident on victory for the independence movement as he said the cases for independence is stronger now that it was in 2014.

He added: “We are now in a world where resources are king, resources are not everything in economics but they make up a substantial part in economics and Scotland is overflowing with natural resources. You put that with a talented skilled population and re-establish our trading relationships with the rest of Europe which have been sabotaged by Westminster, you’ve got the ingredient for economic success.”

The First Minister’s official spokesperson said there is a mandate for the referendum which the Scottish Government is "absolutely intent” on taking forward.

The spokesman said he “cannot get in too much detail” on the exact timing of when a bill will be introduced, however, said it will be published this year.

The first of the independence white papers will be published before Summer Recess which will provide a “scene setter” which will include policies and proposals, according to the FM spokesperson.