Salmond: ‘I’ll debate with his substitute if Cameron refuses’

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
Alex Salmond has confirmed he is ready to debate with the head of the Better Together campaign in a live televised head-to-head.
 
Speaking to Channel 5 news, the First Minister joked that Alistair Darling would have the ‘heebie-jeebies’ at the prospect.

However Mr Salmond repeated his view that the debate the public deserved to see was between himself and the UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

The First Minister told 5 News: “I think that a debate is a good idea and I want to debate with the Prime Minister, of course, as we should do because our names are on the Edinburgh Agreement – the Prime Minister and the First Minister.

“It is a debate which overwhelmingly the people of Scotland want to see.”

However should the Tory leader maintain his refusal to take on Mr Salmond, the SNP leader said he was ready to take on Better Together head Alistair Darling.

“But I have given him a deadline of the Commonwealth Games and if he doesn’t debate by the start of the Commonwealth Games then I will debate with his substitute – Alistair Darling or whoever.”

In a light hearted jibe at Mr Darling, who has previously challenged Mr Salmond to a debate “anytime and anywhere”, the First Minister added: “Whether that will happen, my view is that Alistair will have the heebie-jeebies now.

“It is all very well saying you will do something in theory but when it comes down to the practice – well, we will see what happens.”

The issue has been mired in controversy after STV announced both sides had agreed to take part in a live debate.  The broadcaster had proposed a provisional date of July 16th. 

However Mr Salmond agreed to meet Mr Cameron on that date, and Mr Darling after the Commonwealth Games should the Tory leader continue to duck out.  STV then scheduled a Darling versus Salmond debate for August 5th.

Despite challenging the First Minister to a debate “anytime,anywhere”, Alistair Darling has since withdrawn from the STV hosted event complaining about the date change.  The No campaign claimed STV had bowed to pressure from the First Minister.

However the refusal to debate Mr Salmond in August was further undermined after Better Together revealed they had accepted an invitation from the BBC to appear in a referendum debate on August 12th.  It later emerged that the BBC had not yet issued an invite to the First Minister.