Alex Salmond Slams Cameron Over Pound Threat

The First Minister's exclusively told Capital what he thinks about David Cameron saying he doesnt believe Scotland will be able to use the pound if the country votes for independence.

The Scottish government said it wants to do that in its white paper this week.

But a spokesman for the Prime Minister repeated HIS answer that its unlikely that would ever happen.

The First Minister spoke to Capital last night as he hosted a reception at Stirling Castle for people who've been helped by the STV appeal - which raised 2 and a half million pounds this year to help Scottish children living in poverty.

Meanwhile a suggestion that an independent Scotland would have to apply for membership of the European Union (EU) as a new state has been dismissed by a member of Alex Salmond's cabinet. 

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead spoke out after Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy said that if part of an existing member state became independent, it would be ``left out of the European Union'' and would need to apply for membership as a new state Mr Rajoy reportedly told a press conference in Madrid yesterday: ``I would like to see the consequences of secession presented to Scots in a realistic way. Citizens have the right to be well-informed. 

``If part of a member state becomes independent, it would be left out of the European Union and it would be good for citizens (in the EU) and Scots to know that. EU entry would need to be approved by all 28 member states.'' 

The Spanish government faces its own independence movement in Catalonia, leading Mr Lochhead to comment that the ``Spanish prime minister is in quite a difficult domestic political situation''. 

The Rural Affairs Secretary also told the Good Morning Scotland programme that Mr Rajoy said he had not read the Scottish Government's White Paper on independence, which covers the issue of Europe. 

The White Paper devotes about nine pages to European membership, with the Scottish Government also yesterday publishing a separate report focusing on the EU. 

In the foreword of that document, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Government recognised EU membership will require negotiations with other member states and institutions, but this could be done from within the organisation in the period between a Yes vote in September next year and Scotland becoming independent in March 2016. 

The report asserts that it is wrong on three counts to say Scotland would have to leave the EU and reapply from outside, arguing Scotland has been an integral part of the EU for 40 years, that it would be against the self-interest of the EU collectively and individually, and would also deny the democratically-expressed wishes of the people. 

Mr Lochhead insisted that Scotland would be ``negotiating independent status in Europe from within the UK and within Europe'' in the event of a Yes vote in the referendum. 

He added: ``There is actually nothing in the treaties that can deny existing European citizens their European citizenship, that does not exist in the treaties. 

``We are in a unique position where we will be negotiating EU membership from within Europe and within the UK. That's a completely different situation to candidate countries who are applying from outwith Europe. 

``We're signed up to all European regulations and laws, we're already got European citizenship, we've been members for 40 years. 

``It's simply not in the interest of any other member state, and certainly not in the interests of Scotland, for Scotland to be outside on EU membership for one second.'' 

Mr Lochhead continued: ``I think what we will find is that every single member state, and I go to European negotiations regularly, will warmly welcome Scotland as a member of the European Union and we will inherit our existing treaty obligations that we have at the moment as a part of the UK. That's the common-sense position.'' 

He stressed that the Spanish prime minister ``did not say he did not want Scotland to be in Europe'' and added: ``Any person looking at this from an impartial point of view will not find one reason why any country in Europe would want Scotland not to have a seamless transition. It's in everyone's interest that happen. 

``Indeed the only threat to Scotland's membership of Europe is from the UK Government in-out referendum in 2017, which would lead to economic dislocation for many Scottish sectors if we were to leave Europe. That's the only real threat to Scotland.'' 

But Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: ``The Spanish prime minister has just blown Alex Salmond's case for EU entry out of the water.'' 

She added: ``We need to know what advice the SNP received before they laid out their threadbare case in the White Paper, whether they'd spoken to other member states or even checked basic facts with EU officials. 

``It seems the First Minister has been playing fast and loose with the facts on EU entry and has been spectacularly caught out.'' 

Better Together leader Alistair Darling said Mr Rajoy's comments were ``another blow to Alex Salmond's claims that nothing would change if we vote to go it alone''. 

He added: ``The Spanish prime minister has just made it clear that everything would change. We now know what the position of the Spanish government would be if we vote for independence. This has created even more uncertainty.''