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Sep 19, 2014 11:29 AM

Alex Salmond quits as Scotland's leader

The Associated Press

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) Scotland's pro-independence leader Alex Salmond resigned as first minister and leader of his political party Friday, hours after Scots voted to remain in the United Kingdom.

Salmond, 59, told reporters at a news that he was proud of the campaign and the record turnout for Thursday's vote.

"For Scotland the campaign is not over and the dream will never die," he said.

Salmond's impassioned plea to launch a new nation fell short, with Scots choosing instead the security of remaining in union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The referendum's result prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to Britain's economic and political establishment.

In Thursday's referendum, 55 percent were against independence to 45 percent in favor. There was an unprecedented turnout of just under 85 percent.

But Salmond, who also resigned as head of the Scottish National Party, was upbeat about Scotland's future. A visibly relieved British Prime Minister David Cameron promised to live up to earlier promises to give Scotland new powers on taxes, spending and welfare.

"We now have the opportunity to hold Westminster's feet to the fire on the vow that they have made to devolve further meaningful power to Scotland," he said. "This places Scotland in a very strong position.

Cameron told reporters outside his Downing Street office that the new plans will be agreed upon by November, with draft legislation by January.

As Scotland's fledgling first minister in 2007, Salmond made a referendum on independence his grand strategic goal and predicted, to general disbelief even from supporters, it would be won within a decade.


Danica Kirka reported from London. Associated Press writers Shawn Pogatchnik in Edinburgh; Paul Kelbie in Glasgow; and Gregory Katz in London contributed to this report.


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