27th Oct 2016

Scottish separatist wins TV debate ahead of referendum

  • A snap poll after the BBC debate put Alex Salmond (r) at 71 percent (Photo: BBC)

Scotland's pro-independence leader Alex Salmond on Monday (25 August) was seen as the winner of a final TV debate before a referendum which could lead to the creation of a new EU member state.

The BBC debate, spiced up by heckling from the audience, saw Salmond continuously interrupting and contradicting Alistair Darling, a former British minister who is head of the "Better Together" campaign to keep Scotland in the UK.

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"If we are Better Together, why are we not better together already?" an audience member shouted at one point.

A snap poll by ICM Research found that 71 percent of viewers said Salmond had won the debate, which took place in Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. Darling, the winner of the previous TV debate, only convinced 29 percent of the polled viewers.

The debate focused on whether or not an independent Scotland would be able to keep the British pound - a question Salmond was better prepared for than in the previous encounter.

When asked by Darling whether he could deliver a "plan B" in case Britain opposes a currency union with an independent Scotland, Salmond said he could even deliver "three Plan Bs for the price of one": a flexible currency, a currency fixed to the pound, and unilateral use of the pound.

"The eyes of the world are indeed focused on Scotland. This is our time, our moment. Let us do it now," Salmond told the audience in his opening statement.

Polls ahead of the 18 September referendum still put the anti-independence No camp ahead, but the Yes camp is gaining ground.

The most recent poll, dating back to 15 August, found support for secession at 43 percent against 57 percent for staying in the UK.

If Scotland succeeds in breaking away from Britain, it will have to negotiate its EU membership terms anew.

The Scottish vote is also a landmark for Spain, where Catalonia is also planning to hold a referendum on self-determination in November.

According to the BBC, the Salmond-Darling debate was trending on Twitter not only in the UK, but also in Malaga, Gibraltar, Seville, and Spain as a whole.

With the UK increasingly steering away from the EU under the premiership of David Cameron, the pro-independence, pro-EU camp is putting forward new arguments for a split.

"Membership of the European Union is good for Scotland economically, politically and culturally; the fact that we could find ourselves ripped out of Europe against our will by a euro-hostile UK government Scotland didn't vote for highlights exactly why we need a Yes vote," said Scottish National Party lawmaker Christian Allard.

Spain's Socialists ease Rajoy's path to power

The Socialists agree to abstain in a confidence vote later this week, meaning conservative leader Mariano Rajoy should be able to form a minority government after 10 months of deadlock.

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