It will be impossible for David Cameron to block a second referendum on Scottish independence, Alex Salmond has warned.
On Monday the SNP will vote to give the Scottish parliament the power to hold another referendum, but Salmond told BuzzFeed News that, even if the proposal is voted down, Cameron will be powerless to stop a second independence vote.
Cameron has previously said he would block another referendum because he didn't "see the need" for another one after Scots rejected independence at the polls in September last year. However, Salmond believes the prime minister will be forced into a dramatic climbdown from his position.
"Any Westminster government will crumble as and when a referendum is voted for, just as David Cameron had to crumble the first time," said Salmond. "The problem they have is that a referendum will only happen if people vote for it. All this fear – it's not a fear of me, or Nicola Sturgeon, or Angus Robertson, they're frightened of the verdict of the people.
"This amendment merely puts Scotland's destiny in the hands of the Scottish people, in law as well as in fact. Why are they frightened of that, unless they're afraid of the Scottish people?"
The amendment has been put forward by a group of senior SNP MPs including Salmond, Westminster leader Angus Robertson, and SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie, and Salmond said it has the full backing of party leader Nicola Sturgeon.
It would see the power to hold a referendum placed permanently in the hands of the Scottish government, instead of the UK government which had to grant Holyrood that power in 2014.
The proposal has been criticised by Labour's sole MP in Scotland Ian Murray and Scottish Conservative candidate for next year's Holyrood election Adam Tomkins, who say the SNP is merely agitating for another referendum. Salmond said they wouldn't be concerned about the devolution of the power if either felt they could win the Scottish election next May.
"The amendment just puts the legal position where it should be," said Salmond. "Why should anybody support the idea that the Westminster parliament should have a veto over the aspirations of the Scottish people?
"The only people who will support that are people who don't believe they can be elected in Scotland, like Adam Tomkins who's never been elected for anything, or Ian Murray who's the last surviving Labour MP in Scotland."
"It underlines a lack of confidence in their political prospects at the Scottish election. If they felt they could win the election they wouldn't be so worried about this amendment which merely recognises Scottish nationhood and the right of self-determination."
It's unlikely, given lack of support from the Conservative and Labour benches, that the amendment will pass in parliament on Monday. However, Salmond and Sturgeon are adamant another referendum is "inevitable", and there is nothing the prime minister will be able to do to prevent it.
"If people in Scotland vote for a second referendum then a second referendum we shall have," said Salmond. "No amount of huffing and puffing from David Cameron will stop it."
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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