20 Sep 2014

Salmond resigns after Scots say 'no'

6:06 am on 20 September 2014

Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, who led the campaign for independence, has announced he will step down.

In yesterday's referendum 55 percent of Scots voted to stay in the United Kingdom, a clear majority over the 45 percent who voted for independence.

Mr Salmond said the Scottish people must now hold the British government to its promises of devolving more power to Scotland.

Mr Salmond will also resign as leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which he has led for a total of 20 years.

Scottish voters backed the country staying in the UK by 2,001,926 votes to 1,617,989 in yesterdays' referendum.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond speaks during a press conference to announce his resignation.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond speaks during a press conference to announce his resignation. Photo: AFP

Meanwhile, the Queen has said Scotland's vote to stay in the Union was "a result that all of us throughout the United Kingdom will respect".

She added: "Knowing the people of Scotland as I do, I have no doubt that Scots, like others throughout the United Kingdom, are able to express strongly-held opinions before coming together again in a spirit of mutual respect and support."

Prime Minister David Cameron said the three main Westminster parties would now deliver their campaign pledge to boost the powers of Scotland's devolved parliament.

Mr Salmond, 59, is Scotland's longest-serving first minister, having held the post since the SNP won power at the Scottish Parliament in May 2007.

Speaking from his official residence at Bute House in Edinburgh, the first minister told journalists: "For me as leader my time is nearly over, but for Scotland the campaign continues and the dream shall never die.

"I am immensely proud of the campaign that Yes Scotland fought and particularly of the 1.6 million voters who rallied to that cause."

Mr Salmond said he would resign as SNP leader at the party's conference in November, before standing down as first minister when the party elects its next leader in a membership ballot.

Pro-union supporters celebrate during a 'Better Together' referendum event in Glasgow.

Pro-union supporters celebrate during a 'Better Together' referendum event in Glasgow. Photo: AFP

Nicola Sturgeon, the current deputy first minister and deputy SNP leader, is seen as a clear frontrunner to replace Mr Salmond.

Mr Salmond, who will stay on as MSP for Aberdeenshire East, added: "It has been the privilege of my life to serve Scotland as first minister.

"But, as I said often during the referendum campaign, this is not about me or the SNP. It is much more important than that.

Ms Sturgeon said she could "think of no greater privilege than to seek to lead the party I joined when I was just 16," but said she would not make an announcement today.

Mr Salmond also used his resignation statement to question Mr Cameron's more powers pledge.

"We now have the opportunity to hold Westminster's feet to the fire on the 'vow' that they have made to devolve further meaningful power to Scotland.

"This places Scotland in a very strong position," he said.

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