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Alex Salmond has compared Nicola Sturgeon’s opposition to the Cambo oil field to Mrs Thatcher’s abandonment of coal mining communities.
The former First Minister also claimed the hostile stance could sink the case for independence and cost the SNP tens of thousands of votes.
Sturgeon last week sharpened her opposition to Cambo, which if approved would see drilling for oil near Shetland.
“I don’t think that Cambo should get the green light,” she said during a Holyrood debate.
Her scepticism on the grounds of climate change has sparked alarm among North East SNP politicians who worry an anti-Cambo stance will cost jobs and increase the reliance on fossil fuel imports.
Salmond, who spectacularly fell out with the First Minister and leads the pro-independence Alba party, has criticised his one-time mentor.
In an article for the Sunday Mail, he wrote: “The consequences could be far reaching, and not just for the SNP but for the whole independence movement.”
He claimed SNP loyalists are “baulking” at defending on the doorstep a party which “effectively wants to shut down the area’s key industry.”
He blasted: “It would be akin to Margaret Thatcher, having closed the pits, then campaigning for votes in the old mining areas of Cowdenbeath and Kelty.”
Salmond said oil and gas had always been “part” of the case for independence, but warned:
“For the leader of the independence campaign to casually cast aside that card represents a stunning step backwards.”
He said Cambo should be licensed on condition it is a zero carbon development:
“Without it, then it is not just farewell to tens of thousands of north-east of Scotland votes for the SNP.
“Much more seriously, it’s Mossmorran no more, Grangemouth no more, St Fergus no more – and independence no more.
Salmond and Sturgeon’s relationship was shattered over her Government’s botched investigation into claims of sexual harassment against him.
The pair have not spoken in years and it is believed any reconciliation is unlikely.
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