19 Sep 2014

Alex Salmond to resign after referendum defeat

Alex Salmond announces his resignation as Scotland’s first minister and SNP leader after failing to achieve a yes vote in the independence referendum.

Following the 55-45 per cent defeat for Yes Scotland, Alex Salmond said in Edinburgh: “I am immensely proud of the campaign which Yes Scotland fought and of the 1.6 million voters who rallied to that cause by backing an independent Scotland.

“I am also proud of the 85 per cent turnout in the referendum and the remarkable response of all of the people of Scotland who participated in this great constitutional debate and the manner in which they conducted themselves.

“We now have the opportunity to hold Westminster’s feet to the fire on the ‘vow’ that they have made to devolve further meaningful power to Scotland. This places Scotland in a very strong position.”

‘Redolent with possibility’

Mr Salmond, 59, who has served 20 years as SNP leader, said “in this new exciting situation, redolent with possibility”, Scotland would benefit from new leadership.

He said he would not accept the nomination as leader of the Scottish National Party at its annual conference in November and that he would then resign as first minister. “After the membership ballot, I will stand down as first minister to allow the new leader to be elected.”

He told Channel 4 News Presenter Jon Snow: “I’ve no intention of retiring from Scottish politics. I continue to believe in Scottish independence. I shall continue to do everything to contribute to that cause.”

Mr Salmond said he would continue as MSP for Aberdeenshire East, adding: “It has been the privilege of my life to serve Scotland as first minister. But as I said often during the referendum campaign, this is not about me or the SNP. It is much more important than that.

“The position is this. We lost the referendum vote, but can still carry the political initiative. More importantly, Scotland can still emerge as the real winner.”

‘Second to none’

SNP Deputy Leader Nicola Sturgeon said Mr Salmond’s political achievements were “second to none”, while she owed him a “personal debt of gratitude”.

She added: “Alex’s announcement today inevitably raises the question of whether I will be a candidate to succeed him as SNP leader. I can think of no greater privilege than to seek to lead the party I joined when I was just 16. However, that decision is not for today.