Feb 17 - Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has defended his independence plan, insisting it would keep the pound despite the UK government ruling out a currency union. Salmond is warning of a Scottish backlash after a negative campaign from Westminster to derail the vote, but as Ivor Bennett reports, the plan for secession is looking increasingly unstable, with EU membership now being questioned too.
After the attack, comes the riposte - the point where Scotland starts to fight back. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER, ALEX SALMOND, SAYING: "To be told we have no rights to assets jointly built up is as insulting as it is demeaning. To be told there are things we can't do, will certainly illicit a Scottish response that is as resolute as it is uncomfortable to the 'No' campaign. It is: 'yes we can'." Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond was taking aim at Britain's Finance Minister George Osborne and his threat that should Scotland go independent, the pound won't be theirs. Keeping the currency is one of the twin pillars in Salmond's bid for independence - but with all three of the UK's main political parties ruling out a sterling union, his foundations are looking shaky. The other pillar is EU membership - but that too is starting to wobble after European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said this. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT JOSE MANUEL BARROSO, SAYING: "It will be extremely difficult to get the approval of all the other member states to have a new member coming from one member state. We have seen Spain has been opposing even the recognition of Kosovo for instance so it's to some extent a similar case because it's a new country and so I believe it's going to be extremely difficult if not impossible." Barroso's comments were shrugged off by Salmond, but pounced on by those against independence. Former Finance Minister Alistair Darling is leading the pro-union campaign. SOUNDBITE (English) ALISTAIR DARLING, FORMER UK CHANCELLOR, SAYING: "Nothing is simple in Europe. It always takes far longer than you think and remember this, that potentially any one of 28 member states van veto Scotland's application for reasons that have got nothing to do with Scotland because they're maybe wanting something else themselves, and so on. So the idea that it's all going to be plain sailing and so on, is nonsense." Salmond's hoping the stream of negativity from Westminster will play into his favour come the vote in September. But with the latest polls showing just 29 percent backing a breakaway, there's still plenty to be done.