Salmond ‘will quit’ if Budget fails

Alex Salmond has threatened to resign as Scottish first minister if MSPs refuse to back his government’s first Budget.

Holyrood will vote on the SNP budget at 17:00 GMT today and Mr Salmond has warned he and his entire Cabinet will walk out if the finance bill is not passed.

Such a move would leave MSPs with 28 days to elect a new first minister.

Given the distribution of seats in Holyrood, with the SNP holding 47 of 129 seats, it is unlikely any obvious candidate would emerge.

This would trigger an election, less than a year since Scotland first went to the polls.

The SNP’s approval rating has risen since it formed a government last summer and it is speculated the nationalists calculate a fresh election could increase their share of Holyrood, easing the problems of minority government.

However, it is reported that the SNP do in fact expect their £30 billion Budget to pass.

The finance bill was narrowly approved by 64 to 62 votes before Christmas, with the two Green MSPs abstaining.

The Liberal Democrats and Labour rejected the Budget but the Scottish Conservatives are reportedly prepared to vote with the SNP if the government makes concessions on business rates.