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The Telegraph

Nicola Sturgeon attacks ‘gambler’ Salmond – then says referendum must be held during Covid recovery

Nicola Sturgeon has lashed out at Alex Salmond for being a “gambler” – then set out plans for an independence referendum while Scotland is still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. The First Minister said her former mentor, whom for years she asked Scots to trust to lead to independence, “backs the horses on a near daily basis” and was asking voters to “gamble on the outcome of this election” with his new Alba Party. Despite Mr Salmond’s offer to work with her to achieve an independence “super-majority” in the Holyrood chamber, she said him setting up a separate party was not “a friendly gesture on Mr Salmond’s part towards the SNP.” Challenged that this was the same Alex Salmond that she had asked voters to support in the 2014 referendum and election after election, Ms Sturgeon said: “The point I’m making is about how he’s behaving now. I trusted Alex Salmond for a long, long time.” The First Minister said her planned independence referendum would happen after Scotland is out of the “acute phase” of the pandemic, a term she defined as world leaders telling their populations about ongoing mass fatalities. However, she said the separation vote would happen in the subsequent “recovery phase”. Ms Sturgeon confirmed in an election TV debate this week she wanted the referendum to be held by the end of 2023.