Alex Salmond raises prospect of ‘direct action’ if UK government refuses independence referendum

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Ashley Cowburn
·3 min read
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Alex Salmond has suggested “peaceful demonstration and direct action” is possible if Boris Johnson’s government seeks to block a second referendum under a pro-independence majority at Holyrood.

Launching the Alba Party manifesto — “Shake Things Up” — the former first minister vowed to immediately lay a motion instructing the Scottish government to begin independence negotiations with Westminster if his newly formed party returns MSP as next month’s election.

It comes as voters prepare to head to the polls on 6 May to elect a new Scottish Parliament, with Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, already vowing to fight for an independence referendum if her party emerges with a majority of seats.

In an address to supporters on Wednesday, which was interrupted by technical difficulties, Mr Salmond said Alba was established to “bring urgency into the timetable for delivering independence for Scotland” and ensure there “is no more backsliding on timetables”.

Watch: Alex Salmond demands Alba Party’s inclusion in TV debates

Taking aim at his former party, he said Alba would inject urgency into the issue by “pressuring the pro-independence Scottish government to get a move on and hold it to account if it doesn’t”.

On a referendum, the document states: “Immediately [after] the new Scottish government is formed it should begin to negotiate with Westminster on both the delivery of a referendum and the terms of independence,” the Alba Party document stated.

“Alba will lay a motion in Parliament to deliver this instruction. Our belief is that challenged not by a single political party but a supermajority of independent supporting MSPs, will fundamentally alter the power balance between Scotland and Westminster”.

The manifesto says that the negotiating position should include “but not be restricted” to requesting a formal Section 30 Order from Boris Johnson’s government to hold a referendum — a similar stance to Ms Sturgeon’s SNP.

If the prime minister rejects the order, the document says the Scottish government must then “pass a Referendum Bill with urgency and be ready to fight it through the courts if need be”, adding: “A range of other tactics should be employed including diplomatic pressure and international legal action, and the mobilisation of the Scottish people through popular and peaceful demonstration and direct action”.

Mr Salmond’s newly formed party also demanded the Scottish government prepares independence framework ahead of any referendum, including beginning work for a Scottish Central Bank and a new currency for Scotland.

“This will involve running a dual currency over a period, with sterling as an internationally tradeable currency still an accepted denomination for all private sector assets and liabilities,” the manifesto stated.

He also insisted Alba was not a “single-issue party”, with the 57-page manifesto also calling for the introduction of a £500 annual payment to every low income household in Scotland to tackle deprivation, the doubling Education Maintenance Allowance for students, and the creation of a national renewable energy corporation.

Watch: Alex Salmond refuses to apologise after trial

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