A RAFT of key ministers could leave David Cameron's government following a Yes vote - to campaign for the best deal for an independent Scotland.
Yesterday a number of senior Coalition politicians refused to be drawn on their future if Scotland backs independence next month.
It follows reported remarks from Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael which hint that he may be considering his position in the cabinet.
Alex Salmond has called for a united cross-party 'Team Scotland' to negotiate with the UK in the event of a Yes vote.
The First Minister has said he wants "all the best talents" in the country to join in such talks.
But the SNP has faced criticism from pro-Union politicians amid accusations that its plans for independence are irresponsible, especially on key issues such as the currency it would use and the economy.
Last night Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, said that Mr Carmichael "did not say he would leave the cabinet". On his own position, he added: "I am on Team Scotland now, that's why I want a No vote. Mr Salmond is being very presumptuous in talking about a negotiating team for a referendum which he expects to lose."
Mr Carmichael was reported as saying that after a Yes vote: "It would be difficult to see how you could fit into a Cabinet which was at that point on its way to becoming part of a foreign country."
But pressed on whether he would resign, Mr Carmichael said: "We will cross that bridge if we come to it." He added: "If Scotland votes for independence then I will still want to be part of Scottish public political life.
"I would have to be realistic about what could be achieved, but you know I am not walking away from Scottish politics."
However, he said: "Unlike Alex Salmond, I'm not going to try to pretend the job of that negotiating team will be straightforward or it will achieve the unachievable. If we go down the road of independence, there will be an enormously difficult path. I know which side I will be on, but I would much rather not be put in that position."
And he said he could not support Mr Salmond's call for a 'sterling zone', with a currency shared between an independent Scotland and the remaining UK, saying a Yes vote was "not a mandate for Scotland keeping the pound". He added: "A currency union is not in the gift of Alex Salmond."
Sources close to the First Minister said that he had made it clear that after a Yes vote negotiations would involve figures from "well beyond the ranks of the SNP and the wider Yes campaign". If there is a Yes vote, negotiations between the two sides are expected to last at least 18 months. Mr Salmond has said that he does not expect to declare independence until at least March 2016, following detailed talks with the UK Government.
One snag in the plan is the next general election, due to be held next May. The vote raises the possibility that any negotiations completed with a Tory-Lib Dem government would have to be begun again with Labour.