Salmond is fighting a closely choreographed attempt by London to
scupper Scotland's September 18 vote for independence by undermining
his central economic case that Scotland could be a prosperous,
Salmond accused Westminster of launching a "diplomatic offensive"
against independence and of trying to "dictate from on high" after
the three main UK parties joined forces to rule out a currency union
with an independent Scotland.
"It is a sign of how out-of-touch and arrogant the Westminster
establishment has become," Salmond told business leaders in
Aberdeen, adding that it was to the benefit of both sides of the
border to have a shared currency.
"No one doubts that Scotland can be a successful, independent
country ... the issue is not whether we could be independent, but if
we should be independent."
The twin pillars of Salmond's plan for independence — keeping the
pound and negotiating European Union membership — have been shaken
in recent days.
British finance minister George Osborne warned last week that
Scotland could not keep the pound if Scots vote for independence
while European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso cautioned
Scotland on Sunday that it would struggle to gain European Union
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Salmond downplayed Barroso's comments by saying no EU member state
had indicated it would seek to block Scottish membership,
particularly as Scotland was an eager member of the bloc, unlike the
rest of the UK which is debating a vote on EU membership.
He described the tough tone from London as "campaign rhetoric" but
said it would be a totally different picture if Scotland did vote
for independence in seven months' time.
"What is said by Westminster during the heat of a campaign will be
different from the reality of life" after a vote for independence,
Salmond said, dubbing London's campaign against Scottish
independence as "Project Fear".
(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and
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