Friday, September 19, 2014 5:29 pm
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said Friday he will step down from his post and as leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) after the country voted against independence in a historic referendum.
“I believe that in this new exciting situation, redolent with possibility, the party, parliament and country would benefit from new leadership,” he said at a press conference in Edinburgh.
Salmond said he hoped the 1.6 million people who voted for independence would keep up the pressure on the British government to deliver the new powers it had promised to Scotland as an alternative to leaving the United Kingdom.
“We lost the referendum vote but Scotland can still carry the political initiative. Scotland can still emerge as the real winner,” the tired-sounding politician said.
“For me as leader my time is nearly over. But for Scotland the campaign continues and the dream shall never die.”
Salmond, who has fought his whole political life for independence, said he would not seek re-election as party leader at the SNP conference in November.
Once his successor was chosen, he said he would step down as first minister of the devolved government in Edinburgh, a post he has held since 2007.
The new SNP leader would have to be elected by the Scottish parliament, but this would not likely be a problem as the SNP has a majority in the legislature.
“It has been the privilege of my life to serve as first minister, but as I said often enough during this referendum campaign, this is a process that’s not about me or the SNP or any political party,” he said.
“It’s much more important than that.”
Salmond took over as leader of the SNP in 1990 and served for 10 years, before quitting following the party’s defeat in the first elections for a devolved Scottish parliament.
He returned four years later and spent another decade at the helm, but said it was now “time to give someone else a chance to move that forward”.
Salmond said he had made the decision on Friday morning after it became clear he would lose.