SCOTLAND may not get independence even if the Yes campaign wins the referendum, it was claimed today.
An unnamed senior colleague of Prime Minister David Cameron was quoted saying a Yes vote would not guarantee independence if negotiations between Edinburgh and London could not be completed satisfactorily, adding that the status quo would be “the default option”.
First Minister Alex Salmond dismissed the comments as breathtaking, irresponsible and contemptuous of the democratic process in Scotland.
The row comes the day after Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats all insisted they would not agree to a currency union with an independent Scotland, saying it would not be in the UK’s interests.
Speaking in Edinburgh, Chancellor George Osborne said: “If Scotland walks away from the UK, it walks away from the UK pound.”
Today’s comments from the senior Westminster coalition figure will intensify the referendum debate further. The source said: “A Yes vote in the referendum would be the start of a process, not the end of one; we would start negotiations.
“But if Alex Salmond made impossible demands we would not just roll over and agree to everything he wanted. If we could not reach agreement, the status quo would be the default option.”
The source indicated one such impossible demand would be the threat by the SNP not to accept Scotland’s share of the UK national debt if it was not allowed to share the currency.
“It would not be a question of defying the wishes of the Scottish people. As the UK government we would have a duty to represent the interests of the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
But Mr Salmond described the intervention as astonishing.
He said: “The Westminster establishment are now so worried about losing the referendum that they are threatening to refuse to respect the democratic will of the people of Scotland and rip up the Edinburgh Agreement signed in all good faith with the Prime Minister.”
He said the Scottish Government’s white paper on independence set out clear proposals which were fair to Scotland and the rest of the UK.
“That is what people will vote for or against in September. It is the No camp who are standing in the way of these sensible proposals and are now apparently saying they could refuse to recognise a Yes result, which is breathtaking.”