ALEX Salmond has accused the Conservatives of “double standards” over their manifesto claim a second independence referendum will not be held until there is “public consent” for it.

The former First Minister said he expected following the General Election Theresa May would have to face the fact that “the days where UK Tory Prime Ministers could just say no to Scotland are over”.

His views were echoed by one of his predecessors Henry McLeish who said May was “heaping contempt” on the people of Scotland and “interfering with Scottish democracy”.

Loading article content

The two former First Ministers spoke out after May insisted a second independence referendum cannot take place until there is “public consent” for such a vote to be held. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants a fresh ballot to take place some time between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, insisting it is necessary to give Scots an alternative to Brexit.

MSPs have voted in favour of requesting the legal powers from Westminster to hold one. Speaking on a visit to the Edinburgh South West constituency with SNP candidate Joanna Cherry, Salmond said: “The mandate for a referendum was last year at the Scottish elections when Nicola Sturgeon won with 47 per cent of the vote.

“If you take the European referendum that David Cameron held, he got 37 per cent of the vote in the last General Election.

“So, these kind of double standards of the Tory pParty that there’s one law for us and another for Scotland, it just won’t do. If things go pear-shaped for the Prime Minister, if she slips up... and all of a sudden her big majority starts to disappear and she gets in with a wee majority, do you think Theresa May will say ‘I’m not going to become Prime Minister because I don’t have the consent?’ “No, she will say ‘I’ve won the election because I’ve got more seats and more votes than anyone else’.”

He added: “This is an election and we’re seeking a mandate to oppose Conservative austerity.

“Nicola Sturgeon is seeking a mandate to strengthen Scotland’s hand in the European negotiations, put Scotland into the game, not just Theresa May’s hand. She’s seeking a mandate to assert that the future of Scotland should lie in Scotland’s hands.”

In another strongly-worded attack on the Prime Minister, former Labour First Minister McLeish told The National: “Theresa May is interfering with Scottish democracy. She seems to be turning her back on the very idea of devolution itself and in the process heaping contempt on the people of Scotland and the parliamentarians at Holyrood.

“This is a double lock on Scotland’s constitutional future. Not only the Section 30 required but now she has imposed a public consent clause putting onerous conditions on Scotland’s referendum which didn’t exist for her own European referendum.”

The Prime Minister used the launch of the Conservative Party manifesto to make clear her opposition to another vote on the future of the UK.

She said any second referendum “cannot take place until the Brexit process has played out and it should not take place unless there is public consent for it to happen”.The document includes a pledge to deliver a “strong and stable Union, with no divisive Scottish referendum at this time”.