THE chairman of the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign has put himself on a collision course with Alex Salmond after calling for a new currency to be created if Scots opt to leave the UK.

Dennis Canavan, who chairs the group's advisory board, became the latest high-profile figure within the Nationalist movement to reject the SNP's plan for a currency union with the rest of the UK.

In an interview with the BBC he said his "preferred option" was for a new currency which, he said, offered "more freedom".

His intervention prompted claims from pro-UK parties that the Yes camp was "in chaos" over key economic policies.

However, the First Minister hit back in a series of television interviews. Defending his proposed sterling zone on Channel Four, he confirmed the set-up would put the Bank of England in control of monetary policy, but insisted tax and spending "would be run in Scotland".

Mr Salmond spoke out after former Labour MP and Independent MSP Mr Canavan dismissed the idea, telling BBC Scotland: "If Scotland were to have its own currency then it would have far more freedom to do its own thing and it would have a full range of economic levers to determine its own economic policy."

Chancellor George Osborne said last week the UK was "unlikely" to agree to a formal pact to share the pound but, if it did, it would impose tight controls on an independent Scotland's borrowing and demand approval of its budget.

The SNP Government insists a currency union would be in the interests of both an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK. The policy was recommended by a panel of economic experts in a major report earlier this year.

But in a warning to the SNP leadership, Mr Canavan said: "I am finding in the meetings we are doing in the Yes Scotland campaign throughout the length and breadth of the country some people are questioning that advice.

"I think there is a considerable body of opinion that would favour Scotland having its own currency and keeping open the option that if and when the Eurozone recovers economically, then possibly put it to the people of Scotland by means of a referendum whether we should join the eurozone." He said joining the single currency was "something to aim at".

His comments follow calls by former SNP leader Gordon Wilson, deputy leader Jim Fairlie and Scottish Socialist Party leader Colin Fox, who is also on the Yes Scotland board, for an independent Scotland to have its own currency.

The Scottish Greens, another party in the Yes Scotland group, have also urged the SNP to retain the option of a new currency.

Former Chancellor Alistair Darling, the head of the pro-UK Better Together campaign, said: "How on earth can they ask people to vote for independence when they can't even agree amongst themselves the most basic and fundamental things like what currency we would use? As their confusion over currency has escalated, their credibility has evaporated."

Scottish Labour finance spokesman Ken Macintosh said: "Whether or not we keep the pound is a basic question and Dennis Canavan has again exposed the uncertainty which exists at the heart of a campaign which would break up Britain.

"If the Yes campaign can't even agree what they mean by independence, it is difficult to see how they can expect Scots to vote for it." Scots LibDem leader Willie Rennie said: "This shows the increasing amount of dissent within the Yes camp, which far from providing certainty only creates the impression of chaos. This is a direct challenge to Alex Salmond's authority."

The First Minister, who appears to have ruled out options other than his proposed currency zone, defended the plan last night. He said the Bank of England would operate as joint central bank for Scotland and the UK, adding: "The monetary policy would be run by the Bank of England, the taxation and spending would be run in Scotland by the Scottish Finance Minister.

Asked on Channel 5 whether he was prepared to "bet the house" on Scots voting for independence in next year's referendum, he replied: "I am a betting man and I would always bet on Scotland becoming an independent country."