ALEX Salmond and Alistair Darling will face each other in the first live ­televised debate of the referendum campaign two days after the end of the Commonwealth Games.

STV has confirmed the two key figures in the independence debate will go head to head on prime-time TV on August 5. This follows days of negotiations between the Yes and No camps.

The two-hour debate, chaired by the broadcaster's political editor Bernard Ponsonby, will be staged in front of an audience of 350 people at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow.

Mr Salmond repeatedly insisted he would only debate with Prime Minister David Cameron in the initial TV debate before backing down last month and agreeing to face Mr Darling, the head of Better Together.

The First Minister rejected STV's original plan for a showdown between the two on July 16, demanding a date after the closing ceremony of the Glasgow Games on August 3.

Mr Darling was reluctant to switch to August 5 but finally agreed yesterday.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said: "We accepted this invitation weeks ago and are delighted that Alistair Darling has finally done likewise and accepted the challenge of debating with the First Minister on live TV.

"Mr Darling will be acting as a shield for the Prime Minister - who we will continue to pursue for a debate - and as such he will be defending the Tory policies of David Cameron's Government.

"The choice in this referendum is between continued austerity with ­Westminster or new prosperity and a fairer country in an independent ­Scotland - that is the message we will take into this debate."

A Better Together spokesman said: "We are delighted that there will be a live, televised debate between the leaders of both campaigns. Alex Salmond will now finally have to answer questions on the pound, pensions and public services that he has spent the last two years dodging."

Mr Darling has accepted a BBC bid for a live debate in Inverness on August 12. The plan is being considered by Mr Salmond.