Conservatives 'faking opposition to position themselves for a post-independence deal'

Footage: Peter Cruddas said he and David Cameron refer to Alex Salmond as “the mad Scotsman”.
Footage: Peter Cruddas said he and David Cameron refer to Alex Salmond as “the mad Scotsman”.

The Prime Minister has been urged to explain claims by his disgraced former treasurer that the Conservatives are campaigning against independence to secure a good deal for England should the UK be broken up.

Peter Cruddas, who resigned last weekend after being filmed selling secret meetings with David Cameron, said the party should even be prepared to fake its opposition to Scottish independence to get a better break-up deal for England.

The Sunday Times has released footage in which Cruddas says the Tories must give the impression they support the union - even if they don’t - as this would ensure England gets the best possible deal from the break up of Britain if Scots vote for independence in the 2014 referendum.

Speaking to an undercover reporter, Mr Cruddas said: "He (David Cameron) told me that he wants to fight to keep the union ... he told me that was, those were his true feelings, however, even if they’re not, we as a party have to be seen to be fighting to keep the Union together. Even if we don’t agree with it, because at the end of it all, if the Scots say we’re out of here and they want to go independent, we can turn around and say it’s not what we wanted, it’s not what we campaigned for, you can’t have this, you can’t have that, and you can get on with it."

The SNP described the footage as a “bombshell” for the Tories and claimed they are obviously resigned to losing the referendum.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This is another bombshell for the Scottish Tories, who are isolated and irrelevant in the games being played by their London bosses.

“It shows that senior Tories in London are cynically faking their opposition to independence to position themselves for a post-independence deal.

“The Cruddas revelations show that they believe in nothing except protecting Westminster interests. Their claims about winning the referendum are exposed as mere bravado. In fact they are already preparing for losing.

“After a rich man's budget, a petrol panic and now the exposure of their true feelings towards Scotland, the last Tory would be as well turning in their membership card now.”

A spokesperson for the First Minister said: “This transcript directly contradicts the Prime Minister's spokesperson's account of his conversations with Peter Cruddas. His appointee as Tory treasurer is on tape displaying his contempt for Scotland and our parliament and directly implicates the Prime Minister in that attitude.

“The First Minister believes that Prime Minister owes Scotland a full and detailed explanation of the Cruddas revelations. He will demand one."

A Scottish Conservative Party spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has always been very clear that he wants to keep the Union together. Indeed the transcript shows that the Prime Minister privately told Peter Cruddas that his true feelings are to support and to fight for the union. One of our fundamental beliefs as a Party is that the United Kingdom is better off together."

The footage filmed by reporters posing as potential donors also shows Cruddas claiming that he and Cameron both referred to Salmond as “the mad Scotsman” - and talking in derogatory terms about the Scottish parliament.

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