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Salmond to assemble his all-party team for Yes aftermath

TALKS to shape an independent ­Scotland would begin within two weeks of a Yes vote, Alex Salmond will say today.

In a bold statement of intent, the First Minister will tell the SNP's spring conference in Aberdeen that a vote for independence on September 18 would trigger negotiations with the UK Government by the end of the month.

An "all-party Team Scotland" panel of negotiators comprising figures from across the political spectrum and independent experts would be assembled under the SNP's plans.

Mr Salmond will stress the ­discussions would seek a settlement in the interests of everyone in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

He will add: "The campaigning ­rhetoric will be over. The real work will begin."

The announcement is designed to help build a sense of momentum behind the Yes campaign.

However, a number of experts have questioned whether complex negotiations to divide up the UK's assets and debts could be achieved by Mr Salmond's proposed "Independence Day" deadline of March 24, 2016.

The SNP insist talks would also take place about sharing the pound in a currency union, though the UK Government has ruled out the proposal.

Mr Salmond will also use his final conference address before the vote to reach out to non-SNP supporters.

He will say: "This referendum is not about this party, or this First Minister, or even the wider Yes campaign. It's about putting Scotland's future in ­Scotland's hands.

"It's a vote for a government in ­Scotland that the people of Scotland choose, pursuing policies the people of Scotland support. That may be the SNP. It may be Labour. It may be a coalition.

"I tell you what it won't be. It won't be a government led by a party with just a single MP in Scotland. The era of unelected Tory governments handing out punishment to the poor and the disabled will be gone, and gone for good."

His comments will echo an appeal by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for Labour voters to back Yes.

She used her conference speech yesterday to claim Labour supporters could "reclaim" their party in the event of independence.

Earlier, Mr Salmond decried the UK Government's "campaign posturing" over the currency union, saying it had proved "spectacularly counter-productive" for the Westminster parties, and rounded on former Nato Secretary General Lord Robertson, the Labour peer, who this week warned a Yes vote would be "cataclysmic" for the West and that the "forces of darkness would simply love" a move to Scottish independence.

The First Minister said: "The sort of apocalyptic nonsense that Lord George Robertson was spouting in Washington over the last few days is an indication that the pressure seems to be getting to the No campaign as the Yes vote steadily increases month by month."

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