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Salmond urges Yousaf to back referendum Bill and escape independence ‘dead end’

A member’s Bill proposed by Alba’s Ash Regan would ask Scots if Holyrood should have the power to legislate and negotiate independence.

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Alex Salmond

Former first minister Alex Salmond has urged the Scottish Government to back his party’s referendum Bill to break away from “dead end” independence strategies.

Ash Regan, who recently defected to Alba from the SNP, unveiled plans alongside Mr Salmond to introduce legislation for a vote to ask Scots if Holyrood’s powers should be extended to legislate and negotiate independence.

It would see such a vote held exactly 10 years after the September 18 referendum in 2014, when Scots rejected independence to stay part of the UK.

Mr Salmond told journalists on Thursday that the current approach had run out of ideas and would fail after repeated SNP demands for another referendum were rejected by Tory prime ministers.

He said the current state of Scotland’s future in the union had reached a “dead end” following the Supreme Court ruling last year which said the Scottish Government could not hold a second vote on independence without the approval of the UK Government.

The former first minister, who resigned from the post in 2014 following the referendum defeat, said: “The national movement has come to a dead end at the Supreme Court last year. People haven’t proposed a way forward until now.

“They (the Scottish Government) are not going to do anything different from what they have been doing over the last nine years, which is to ask Westminster for a referendum. I think it’s pretty clear that’s not going to happen.”

At a press conference in Edinburgh on St Andrew’s Day, Ms Regan said Alba’s proposals would break the political “stalemate” on independence, and she made a direct appeal to First Minister Humza Yousaf to back her member’s Bill.

Ash Regan joins Alba Party
Alba MSP Ash Regan has proposed the referendum in a member’s Bill (Andrew Milligan/PA)

She said: “That was one of the frustrations that I was having when I was part of the SNP, there just wasn’t any progress. I believe this breaks the stalemate and moves us forward from that logjam we’ve been in constitutionally.

“I’d like to take the opportunity to speak directly to the Scottish Government and to Humza Yousaf.

“The Bill I’m proposing today has the capacity to bring the whole independence movement together, to break the constitutional logjam.

“If you support this Bill, we can guarantee that it is delivered. So instead of putting the immediate future of independence into the hands of Westminster, we can put it back into the hands of Scotland where it belongs.”

Asked whether the referendum Alba proposes is likely next September given the lengthy time-frame a member’s Bill can take to pass through Parliament, Mr Salmond said it will be possible “if the Government decided to support it”.

He also said legal action he has launched against the Scottish Government over the handling of harassment complaints against him will not hamper or overshadow the Bill.

Mr Salmond added: “You don’t have to agree with people or even like them to co-operate politically. These matters (of Scottish independence) are infinitely more important than the views or disputes with individuals.”

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