JOHN Swinney is making “independence impossible” at this General Election, former first minister Alex Salmond has claimed.

The Alba leader criticised his SNP counterpart after Swinney’s comments about Scottish independence on Wednesday.

Speaking to the BBC, the First Minister rowed back on the SNP’s commitment to open “independence negotiations” with the UK Government if they win a majority of Scots seats at the General Election.

Instead, Swinney said that the SNP would seek to negotiate holding a second independence referendum.

And speaking to ITV, the SNP leader said he would be open to negotiating more powers for Holyrood with an incoming Labour government.

Salmond criticised Swinney – his own former finance secretary – for the comments, suggesting he was “making independence impossible in this election”.

The Alba leader said: “Now we know why independence is off the SNP ballot paper but on the Alba one.

“These interviews from John are so wrong on so many levels. All experience shows that the ONLY circumstances when Labour offer more powers for Scotland is when they are frightened of independence.

“Since SNP are not campaigning for independence then clearly Labour have no need to concede anything.

“As John told Nick Robinson, the SNP is campaigning for a ‘democratic effect’ ie to ask Keir Starmer to hold a referendum. As Starmer has already told John the answer is ‘No’.

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“Thus by soft-pedalling independence, John is not just making independence impossible in this election, he is even making devo max highly unlikely in this parliamentary term.

“John is reprising his 2003 campaign (‘fulfill our potential’!) and he risks getting the same result.”

The 2003 Holyrood elections, into which Swinney led the SNP, saw the party drop eight seats from 35 to 27.

Alex Salmond speaking at the Alba campaign launch in Glasgow in June (Image: Colin Mearns)

The following year, Swinney was forced to resign and Salmond took his place as SNP leader.

Swinney took over at the head of the party again in 2024 after Humza Yousaf was forced to resign after ending the Bute House Agreement with the Greens.

His SNP are looking to win a majority of seats north of the Border at the General Election on July 4: at least 29 out of 57.

Recent polling has put the SNP and Labour neck-and-neck, with a seat projection suggesting both parties could return 27 MPs.