It  has been a disastrous day for the Scottish National Party. Its majority at Holyrood has been cut to just one this morning after two MSPs – Jean Urquhart and John Finnie – quit the party in protest at its decision at its conference in Perth this weekend to end its opposition to Nato.

Then Nicola Sturgeon gave a statement to the Scottish Parliament which led to her boss being branded a ‘liar’ by Labour as she admitted that the Scottish government has not yet sought legal advice on whether an independent Scotland would continue to be a member of the European Union. She said:

‘The Scottish government has previously cited opinions from a number of eminent legal authorities, past and present, in support of its view than an independent Scotland will continue in membership of the European Union but has not sought specific legal advice. However, as the Edinburgh agreement provides the exact context of the process of obtaining independence, we now have the basis on which specific legal advice can be sought.’

This directly contradicts what Salmond told Andrew Neil on the Sunday Politics in March:-

Andrew Neil: Have you sought advice from your own Scottish law officers in this matter?
Alex Salmond: We have, yes, in terms of the debate.
Neil: And what do they say?
Salmond: You can read that in the documents that we’ve put forward, which argue the position that we’d be successor states.
Neil: And what do they say?
Salmond: You know I can’t give you the legal advice, or reveal the legal advice of law officers, you know that, Andrew.

Labour MSP Paul Martin seized on the statement to brand Salmond a ‘liar’, saying:

‘It appears the First Minister is a liar and used taxpayers’ money to try to cover up his lies. When asked about whether he had sought legal advice on Scotland joining the EU, he said he had. He even went to court to prevent that advice from being published and he told the Scottish Parliament that he couldn’t reveal it because the rules wouldn’t let him. Now Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Alex Salmond never had any advice to keep secret in the first place. That means the Deputy First Minister has revealed the First Minister to be a liar.’

Jonathan blogged last week that Scots are going off the idea of independence, and that the SNP now has a real challenge on its hands to persuade them to vote yes in 2014′s referendum. Today’s resignations and revelations won’t help the party get on with that task.

Tags: Alex Salmond, Scottish independence, SNP, UK politics