Salmond: ''Real Work'' Still Ahead
12 April 2014, 05:00
Independence negotiations between Scotland and the rest of the UK could start within days of a Yes vote in the referendum, the First Minister will reveal today.
Alex Salmond will tell the SNP conference in Aberdeen that if Scots vote to leave the rest of the UK, that is when the ''real work will begin''.
A cross-party ''Team Scotland'' will be set up to negotiate an independence settlement, Mr Salmond will say.
This group will then begin talks with Westminster before the end of September.
With this being the last SNP conference before the vote on independence on September 18, Mr Salmond will make his crucial keynote address to party activists today.
He will tell them that if there is a Yes vote in the referendum ''an all-party 'Team Scotland' negotiating group, including non-SNP members, will be convened''.
Mr Salmond will say this group will ''secure expertise from across the political spectrum and beyond, and from Scotland and beyond''.
He will add: ''That group will begin negotiations with Westminster before the end of September.
''The discussions will be held in accordance with the principles of the Edinburgh Agreement. That means with respect and in the interests of everyone in Scotland and the rest of the UK.
''The campaigning rhetoric will be over. The real work will begin.''
The Scottish Government proposes if there is a Yes vote Scotland will become an independent state on March 24 2016.
Mr Salmond will stress that the referendum is not about him or his party, but is instead ''about putting Scotland's future in Scotland's hands''.
The First Minister will tell SNP activists: ''Our party is hugely popular, and we are currently five and 15 points ahead in polls for Westminster, Europe and Holyrood respectively.
''But a Yes vote in September is not a vote for me, or for an SNP government in 2016.
''It's a vote for a government in Scotland that the people of Scotland choose, pursuing policies the people of Scotland support.
''A government in control of tax, the economy, social security, employment, immigration, oil and gas revenues, European policy and a range of other areas currently under Westminster control.
''That may be the SNP. It may be Labour. It may be a coalition.''
However, he will claim that independence will end the ''era of unelected Tory governments'' in Scotland.
The Conservatives have just one MP north of the the border, with Mr Salmond expected to attack David Cameron's party for ''dismantling our welfare state'' and its determination to ''privatise public services''.
He will pledge: ''In an independent Scotland we can give this guarantee: The era of unelected Tory governments handing out punishment to the poor and the disabled will be gone and gone for good.''