Alex Salmond will resign as first minister and leader of the SNP after deciding not to seek re-election at his party’s November conference.
The first minister told journalists he was ‘immensely proud’ of the campaign he fought and the 1.6 million people who had voted ‘Yes’.
Mr Salmond’s resignation comes hours after he lost the referendum. The national vote was split 55% for No and 45% for Yes.
While the SNP leader said his ‘time is nearly over’, he urged David Cameron to follow through on his devolution promises, reminding the prime minister that “1.6 million people will speak and speak loud if there is a retreat from those commitments”.
An alumni of St Andrews, Alex Salmond will go down in history as the man who came within a whisker of breaking up the United Kingdom.
Galvanizing his base through fiery oratory, sharp wit and quickness on his feet, Salmond’s retirement will be a huge loss for the SNP.
His charisma, strong media performances and a solid record in government are credited for net positive poll ratings for most of his time in office – a unique feat among UK politicians.
It is not yet clear who will succeed the first minster. Salmond said there several highly qualified candidates although it is likely Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy first minister, will take over.
Salmond had his first big political breakthrough in 1987 when he won the Westminster constituency seat of Banff and Buchan – a seat which he held up until the May 2010 general election.
In 2007, he pulled of a stunning victory leading his party to the top of the polls in the Scottish parliamentary elections becoming first minister in the process with the support of the Scottish Green Party. Building on this success, Salmond won a shock majority in 2011 – something the Scottish electoral system was designed to prevent.
For a man whose entire political career was steeped in controversy – in 1988 he was expelled from the House of Commons after continuously interrupting Nigel Lawson’s (the chancellor) speech about the ‘Poll Tax’ – it is fitting that his final press conference also frustrated some members of the press. Journalists from The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express where all excluded from the press conference. The Guardian also refused to send a reporter after they accused the first minister’s team of hand-picking journalists to cover the event.
Mr Salmond ended the media conference saying:
For Scotland the campaign continues and the dream shall never die