Page last updated at 13:24 GMT, Thursday, 1 November 2012

First minister's questions

Alex Salmond defended his assertions on retaining sterling, membership of the EU and NATO in the event of an independent Scotland, during first minister's question time on 1 November 2012.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont attacked the first minister for insisting Scotland would retain the pound if independent, without having spoken to the Bank of England or the treasury about the issue.

Ms Lamont said Mr Salmond asserted an independent Scotland would become a member of the EU without having to apply, although he had not spoken to other member states or sought legal advice.

She added the first minister had said Scotland would not have the Euro despite not asking anyone about it and went on to say, given these assertions, "what will the weather be like in an independent Scotland?"

Mr Salmond hit back saying the secretary of state for Scotland had said there was "no legal bar" to Scotland having sterling as its currency, which would suit the rest of the UK too, who would be "biting our hands off" for Scotland to retain Sterling.

He went on to cite Graham Avery, an Honorary Director General of the European Commission, who has said he believed an independent Scotland would not need to apply for EU membership, as Scots had acquired rights as EU citizens over the past 40 years.

This, he said, "puts the lie to the scaremongering campaign" of Labour and the other opposition parties.

Ms Lamont said Mr Salmond "asserts things for which he has no evidence" and "no-one trust a word he says".

The first minister pointed out that in a recent YouGov poll on trust in party leaders for standing up for Scotland, Ms Lamont had only 6% who backed her.

Trust was the issue raised by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson as she said there was "no legal basis" for the first minister's claims on an independent Scotland in Europe and "no facts or advice to support the assertion" that Scotland could remain in NATO having kicked out the nuclear submarine fleet at Faslane.

Ms Davidson said the "first minister asserts as facts things he does not know to be true", adding he could not be trusted on defence, the economy or on Europe.

The fact that 25 of the 28 members of NATO were non-nuclear states was the evidence she sought, said Mr Salmond.

He advised UK Defence Minister Philip Hammond to create contingency plans for the removal of nuclear submarines from Faslane as he believed "Scotland will vote for independence and nuclear weapons are on the way out of Scotland".

On the issue of trust he cited the YouGov poll again saying trust in Ruth Davidson standing up for Scotland was at 5%.

Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, agreed it was "unlikely" the EU would exclude Scotland, however it would be subject to the agreement of the 27 other governments on what terms the membership would continue.

Mr Rennie said as "people now doubt what he says they want to know for sure what they might lose when they vote in any referendum."

The first minister said Scotland's position would be negotiated from within the EU and pointed out the real uncertainty was on the UK's membership of the EU following the UK government's defeat in the debate of funding for the organisation.

Finally he added that Mr Rennie's standing in the recent YouGov poll on trust to stand up for Scotland stood at 2%.

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