Alex Salmond has insisted that he hasn't actually lost a $50 bet to a Sun columnist about the price of oil, as has been reported elsewhere.
Trevor Kavanagh, the former political editor of The Sun, made a bet with Salmond that oil prices would drop below $50 a barrel in 2015, and it was claimed this morning that Kavanagh had won when oil prices fell to $49.92 before edging back above the all-important $50 mark.
However, when BuzzFeed News enquired as to whether Salmond had paid his debt, the former first minister of Scotland immediately called back to dispute the suggestion that he'd lost.
"Trevor can't quite count his chickens yet," Salmond explained. "The bet was made about the closing price of Brent Crude oil falling below $50 – the closing bell has to sound."
"Although, unfortunately, it is looking good for Trevor," he added begrudgingly.
The SNP made its economic case for Scottish independence based on oil prices remaining at around $110. Following the recent oil price collapse, some commentators such as Kavanagh have said an independent Scotland would have faced economic difficulty.
However, ex-oil economist Salmond believes the price will soon recover, meaning there's still a chance – a slight chance – he might be victorious in the bet.
"This is the nature of oil prices," explained Salmond. "It was at $45 in 2009. Every time there's a drop in oil prices people act as if it's never happened before – the price will bounce back up," he said.
Salmond confirmed the bet had been made with Kavanagh for the princely sum of $50, and he pledged to pay up on time and in full if he loses.
"If Trevor does win, I'll send him a $50 note. A greenback – I believe that's how Trevor is accustomed to getting paid," joked Salmond.
"Although, I didn't realise Trevor was so desperate for cash. Maybe we should have a whip-round for him."
UPDATE: Alex Salmond has issued an open letter to Trevor Kavanagh offering "a double on $50 end of year price".
Happy New Year and Brent Oil Price.
You should never claim a win on a bet until your horse is past the post – the bet is Brent oil price at the end of day (closing price), of any day this year – last night's price was $51.10 and the price at 3pm today was $51.66. If you do win – and things do look good for you just now, bad for oil workers but good for you – then you shall receive from me $50 in greenbacks so you can hide it from George Osborne!
In which case I will offer you a double on $50 end of year price given the lesson that the oil market's go down but always go up again. The serious point is this – London glee on low oil prices rather overlooks the impact it has on Scottish jobs, when the price is high, as in 2011, the Treasury move like lightning to tax to the hilt but when prices are low they move at a snail's pace to help.
In light of this perhaps our next bet should be on the number of SNP MPs in the next Parliament!
Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.
Contact Jamie Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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