Downing Street backs down as Cameron agrees to meet Salmond


By G.A.Ponsonby

Prime Minister David Cameron has agreed to arrange to meet Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond in order to discuss the 2014 independence referendum.

This evening’s decision from Downing Street’s follows earlier demands that Mr Salmond speak to Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore.

However, speaking on today’s Politics Show Mr Salmond insisted that any discussions should take place between the decision makers, the First Minister also revealed that he had already invited David Cameron for talks six times with no success.

The decision to agree to meet the First Minister is a climb down for the Tory leader and will also be seen as a snub to Michael Moore who is looking to be increasingly off the pace.

Today witnessed yet another blunder by the hapless Lib Dem MP as he admitted that a single question on the referendum ballot was merely his “preferred” option.

Speaking on the Politics Show Mr Moore also appeared to challenge Tory Chancellor George Osborne’s claim the an independent Scotland would be prevented from using Sterling.

A spokesman for Cameron’s Downing Street office said: “The PM has made it clear he is happy to meet Alex Salmond and arrangements for that will be made in the coming days.”

The Downing Street spokesman said he “hoped” that the First Minister would agree to speak to Mr Moore on Thursday, the day after the Scottish Government launches the referendum consultation.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said that the First Minister would be happy to speak to Mr Moore.

He said: “It is much better than the initial reaction last Friday to the First Mnister’s request for a meeting with the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

“We look forward to these meetings being arranged soon, and we will have them in any order the UK Government wish.”

The stand-off between London and Edinburgh followed demands by Mr Cameron that any independence referendum comply with conditions set down by London.  The Tory PM was joined this week by Labour leader Ed Miliband in attacking the Scottish Government’s referendum plans.

However First Minister Alex Salmond has warned Mr Cameron not to interfere in Scottish democracy and has set a date for the ballot of Autumn 2014.

The debate has also seen the emergence of former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling as a candidate to lead the anti-independence campaign.