Scottish separatist leader scolds 'arrogant' UK
By Belinda Goldsmith
LONDON (Reuters) - Separatist leader Alex Salmond insisted on Monday that Scotland would keep the pound if it left the UK and accused British politicians of bluffing by ruling out a currency union in a campaign of fear that would provoke a backlash from Scots.
Salmond is fighting a concerted attempt by London to prevent a "yes" verdict in a September 18 referendum on independence by undermining his central economic case that oil-rich Scotland could be a prosperous, independent nation.
As opinion polls start to show growing - though still minority - support for secession, the debate has intensified, with the twin pillars of Salmond's plan - keeping the pound and negotiating European Union membership - shaken in recent days.
In an unprecedented move, the three main UK parties joined forces to rule out a currency union with an independent Scotland, and then European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned that Scotland would find it extremely difficult if not impossible to gain European Union membership.
Salmond, a wily politician who has led the Scottish National Party (SNP) for almost 25 years, accused Westminster of launching a diplomatic offensive against independence and of trying to "dictate from on high", an appeal to Scots' dislike of being told what to do by southern politicians.
"It is a sign of how out-of-touch and arrogant the Westminster establishment has become," Scotland's first minister told business leaders in Aberdeen, adding it was to the benefit of both sides of the border to have a shared currency.
"What is said by Westminster during the heat of a political campaign will differ from the reality of life after the referendum," he added.
Salmond's deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, said Barroso's stance was "preposterous". Continued...