Salmond: Differences with Sturgeon insignificant compared to independence cause

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Former first minister Alex Salmond has said personal differences with Nicola Sturgeon are insignificant compared to the “national cause” of Scotland becoming independent.

Speaking to Sky News political editor Beth Rigby on Thursday, Mr Salmond revealed he would not let their “personal difficulties” stand in the way of any independence campaign.

“They’re insignificant compared to the national cause of Scotland becoming independent, to which I and Nicola Sturgeon have devoted our lives,” he said.

The former SNP heavyweight parted ways with the party he had led for a total 30 years in 2018 following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Mr Salmond was charged with 14 offences including attempted rape and sexual assault the following year.

After a high-profile trial in 2020, Mr Salmond was acquitted of all charges and received £500,000 in compensation from the Scottish Government.

During Ms Rigby’s interview, he was pressed on whether or not the allegations politically damaged him and whether he acknowledged his behaviour to women was sometimes inappropriate.

Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond were professionally close until allegations of Mr Salmond’s sexual misconduct (PA)

“It’s not going to get in the way of an independence campaign. I will contribute wholeheartedly, full scale to the independence campaign. That’s what the party is formed to do.”

The former first minister, who led the SNP to the first ever majority in the Scottish parliament in 2011, now heads the Alba party which he formed in early 2021.

Alba has consistently called on the SNP to take stronger action in securing Scottish independence. Mr Salmond said the independence movement had been waiting a considerable time for action.

He told Ms Rigby: “Like many people in the national movement, I’m just pleased that the starting gun has eventually been fired because they’ve waited on it for some considerable time.”

Mr Salmond believes now is the right time to seek a second vote on Scottish independence due to Boris Johnson “resembling the stag at bay”.

“I think it’s an open question if Boris Johnson will even be prime minister by the autumn,” he said.

“Therefore, this seems to be a very good time to exert the political and democratic pressure.”

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