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Lamont: I would back exit from UK if Holyrood was threatened

SCOTTISH Labour leader Johann Lamont has said she would support moves to take Scotland out of the UK if there was ever an attempt to shut down Holyrood.

Ms Lamont told an audience at a referendum debate hosted by The Herald last night in Glasgow that her commitment to devolution stretched to supporting independence if Westminster moved against the Scottish Parliament.

Her comments came as she was asked during the hustings at Oran Mor whether she feared the prospect of the UK Government closing the Parliament.

Ms Lamont replied that it would create a constitutional crisis that would see her agree to taking Scotland out of the UK.

At a packed and lively debate in the city, Ms Lamont was joined by Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, the SNP's Culture and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Green Party

More than 350 people attended the event, including the Consul General of Japan, Hajime Kitaoka and the Consul General of Italy, Carlo Perrotta.

Mr Carmichael said the focus now for the Yes campaign was "on creating a mood". He said: "Instead of talking about the issues, they are talking about their campaign.

"They want to create the impression that something extraordinary is happening and that you just need to park your pesky questions, join the in crowd and vote for them. But this isn't a game, a fashion or a fad. It's not a moment. It's forever."

Refuting recent claims of ¬"polling day carnage" and "nationalist mobs" from the pro-Union camp, Ms Hyslop described an "amazing, peaceful and consented independence referendum" which she said had "seized the nation in debate, discussion, discourse and dialogue about the country we seek and the nation we can build".

She added: "It is no longer, if it ever was, politics of party. It is now politics of people and their say, their stake and their story in the journey of Scotland - its society, community, economy and democracy."

Mr Harvie denied independence was a "selfish act", adding that if he had he accepted arguments over "breaking bonds of friendship" across the UK or having a negative impact on "those seeking a better society" south of the Border he would vote No

But the Green MSP added: "Scotland voting Yes could be just the catalyst the rest of the UK needs to begin a democratic renewal that's long overdue. An independent Scotland could demonstrate by our actions that austerity economics are not the only way, that a welfare state fit for the 21st century can be built, that a fairer more equal society is within our grasp, and we could tip the balance against the renewal of weapons of mass destruction."

Ms Lamont said crucial questions on currency, Europe, pensions, and jobs had not been answered. She added: "But the real question is: why? Why break from our friends and neighbours? Why face an uncertain future? It just doesn't make sense.

"Because this is not just about money and resources: it is about beliefs and values. Not underpinned by division or grievance, but inspired by hope."

Audience members arrived for the debate, sponsored by leading technology firm NVT from Dingwall, Moidart and even France.

Mr Carmichael dismissed "conspiracy theories" about attempts to suppress the discovery of oil fields off Shetland in the 1970s, stating that they were only operational now due to technological advances.

Mr Harvie though said the environmental impact of oil was never discussed. With the Yes-support clearly in the majority,

Ms Hyslop asked for "respect" as Ms Lamont was interrupted by the audience.

Hamish Fraser, director of NVT Group, said: "This has been a lively debate, in a referendum still hotly contested. We're delighted to be involved in the debate and supporting The Herald in maintaining a fair and well-balanced debate."

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