Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has threatened to use the police to sabotage any attempt by David Cameron to force an early referendum on Scottish independence.
He told Chancellor George Osborne he would order Scotland’s police to refuse to man the polling stations, making it impossible for the vote to go ahead.
The row is part of an increasingly acrimonious war of words between Mr Salmond and the Chancellor, who is taking charge of the Coalition’s move to stop Scotland becoming independent.
Feud: Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond is increasingly at odds with Chancellor George Osborne
The feud erupted at a private meeting weeks ago.
Scottish Conservative peer Lord Forsyth said: ‘I was told by George Osborne that Mr Salmond said he would boycott any referendum imposed by Westminster. He said he would order the police not to man the polling stations.’
Control of the police in Scotland is the responsibility of Mr Salmond’s administration, but Lord Forsyth said they did not have the power to hand out operational orders.
‘Power has gone to his head and he is getting too big for his boots. He thinks because he won an election, he is above the law,’ he said.
Lord Forsythe says George Osborne, pictured, was told by Mr Salmond that the police in the Scotland would be ordered to sabotage an early referendum
Lord Forsyth confirmed that Mr Osborne did not give him permission to disclose Mr Salmond’s comments, but said he had decided to do so because of the importance of the issue.
‘I heard that he had made the threat directly to Mr Osborne. When I asked the Chancellor, he said Mr Salmond had told him he would not co-operate with any referendum imposed by Westminster.’
On Friday, Mr Salmond hit back at Mr Osborne’s warning that Scotland would have to join the euro if it cut ties with London, claiming the Chancellor ‘thinks he now owns sterling’.
As the full implications of a breakaway Scotland become clearer, the Ministry of Defence is drawing up plans to withdraw Britain’s fleet of nuclear submarines from their base in Faslane.
A new English base – probably in Plymouth or Portsmouth – could take a decade to build.
A spokesman for Mr Salmond last night confirmed the First Minister had met Mr Osborne but denied the conversation about banning police from polls had taken place.
Salmond: I’ll order police to sabotage an early referendum on independence