Alex Salmond, first minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), is to stand down after the Scottish public rejected independence in Thursday’s historic referendum.
Announcing his resignation on Friday, Salmond revealed he will remain in the role until mid-November, when the SNP will vote for a new leader.
His resignation follows the failure of the ‘Yes’ campaign to capitalise on a late surge in support for independence, with the ‘No’ campaign securing 55% of the vote.
“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,” Salmond said.
“The position is this. We lost the referendum vote but can still carry the political initiative. More importantly Scotland can still emerge as the real winner.
“For me as leader my time is nearly over but for Scotland the campaign continues and the dream shall never die.”
After leading the party for 20 years, Salmond revealed that he would ask to continue serving as MSP for Aberdeenshire East.
He also used his statement to fire a parting shot at the UK government, saying Scotland must “hold Westminster’s feet to the fire” over its promises to devolve more powers north of the border.
Speaking shortly after the referendum result was announced, prime minister David Cameron pledged to gift more autonomy not just to Scotland, but to Northern Ireland, Wales and England also.
“The 3 pro-union parties have made commitments, clear commitments, on further powers for the Scottish Parliament. We will ensure that they are honoured in full,” he said.
Salmond refused to be drawn on the identity of his replacement, but his deputy Nicola Sturgeon has been tipped as the early favourite.