Alex Salmond to make statement at 2pm amid speculation of return to politics

Alex Salmond to make statement at 2pm amid speculation of return to politics

Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond is to make a statement on Friday afternoon amid growing speculation he is to return to frontline politics. 

Mr Salmond said he will make his statement and then hold a virtual question and answer session at 2pm on Friday.

His departure from the Scottish National Party (SNP) has been laid bare in recent weeks as he and his successor Nicola Sturgeon gave evidence to the Holyrood inquiry. 

Their splintered relationship was exposed during the investigation into the botched handling of sexual harassment complaints against Mr Salmond.

The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints concluded by division that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon misled Parliament.

In his first public statement since the publication of the report, Mr Salmond said he is preparing for a further legal challenge due to the “conduct” of the Scottish Government’s permanent secretary Leslie Evans.

Mr Salmond said his announcement of the legal action on Wednesday would be his “final statement” on the reports.

Mr Salmond successfully challenged the Scottish Government’s investigation in court, and was later cleared of all 13 charges at a trial last year following a separate criminal probe.

The topic of his statement on Friday has not been disclosed.

But with political parties launching their Holyrood elections campaigns ahead of the May 6 vote, much of the talk is surrounding Mr Salmond’s next move. 

He called a press conference which is scheduled for 2pm, which you can watch at the top of this article.

Are we about to see the sensational return of Salmond to Holyrood?

The announcement has fuelled speculation that he is to announce plans to secure a sensational return to Holyrood.

While there are no confirmed details of what he will announce, the statement comes just days before Wednesday’s deadline for submitting papers to confirm a Holyrood candidacy.

Mr Salmond is no longer a member of the SNP, but he is still highly respected within parts of the pro-independence movement.

If Mr Salmond did announce that he was standing as an independent, he could secure election to Holyrood with as little as five per cent of the vote under the Holyrood voting system, if he was to put himself forward as a candidate on the regional lists rather than in a constituency.

There are also a number of fringe pro-independence parties putting forward candidates for the Holyrood elections across Scotland.

If he does stand for Holyrood, the news would be likely to delight unionist parties, given his potential to create problems for Ms Sturgeon and split the pro-independence vote.

Asked about the rumours that Mr Salmond will attempt to return to Holyrood, Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, said: “That’s a decision for  Alex Salmond to make, and if he is confirmed as a candidate, what I would say is all the best to him. 

“But we can’t go back to the old arguments, we can’t go back to yesterday’s politics where politicians are fighting with each other and trying to make this a personality based contest rather than what actually matters to people.

“We’ve had enough of that old divisive politics, all about rhetoric and little about delivery. And let’s recognise that whatever challenges any political leaders over the years might feel they have with each other, that pales into insignificance compared to the challenges that families and individuals have faced through this pandemic. They deserve politics that focuses on them.”

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