Scotland “cannot wait until next year, or the year after” for independence, Alex Salmond said as Nicola Sturgeon indicated she will not support his push for another referendum.
Speaking BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday, the Scottish First Minister said her “immediate focus” if re-elected next week will be on coronavirus, adding those who are “serious about independence” know the country should navigate the pandemic first, while also building support for leaving the UK among undecided voters.
Salmond, the Alba Party leader and Sturgeon’s predecessor as SNP leader, said the comments highlight a difference in approach between the two parties.
“This crystallises the difference of strategy in this election campaign,” he said. “Alba believes that for Scotland to recover from the coronavirus we need the financial recovery powers that we can only have through independence.
“Our economic recovery can’t wait until next year, or the year after, it must be a recovery led by Scotland’s Government right now.”
Sturgeon told Today: “My immediate focus, if I’m re-elected next Thursday, is to get back to work to continue to steer this country through Covid.
“I don’t believe we should propose a referendum right at this moment.
“I’m a life-long supporter in independence, I want Scotland to be independent. But firstly we’ve got to steer the country through the crisis and we’ve got to build the majority for independence through patient persuasion.
“People who are serious about achieving independence I think understand that.
“I think talk of supermajorities and gaming the system and trying to bulldoze our way to independence almost regardless of the state of public opinion risks putting those we need to persuade of independence off rather than pulling them towards us.”
Salmond also took a swipe at the SNP’s newly launched action plan to tackle coronavirus in the first 100 days of the new Scottish Parliament.
“Boris Johnson is currently on the ropes as Prime Minister and already it has been suggested that we give him a 100-day holiday from having to address the democratic will of Scotland,” he said.
“Scotland’s independence is Alba’s priority, and next week it shall be up to the people if they wish to cast their votes to show it is also their priority.
“Alba is rising and if we return representation from across Scotland, then the people will have spoken and their Parliament must respond to that call.”