Down but not out: Ex-Scottish independence leader Alex Salmond seeks return to UK Parliament



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LONDON — Weeks after his party lost an independence referendum and he quit as the Scottish leader, Alex Salmond has his eye on a seat in the British Parliament and a return to major political influence.

Salmond will contest a northeast Scotland seat in Britain's general election in May as a candidate for the Scottish National Party, which he led until last month.

"With so much at stake for Scotland, I think it's impossible to stand on the sidelines," Salmond told supporters Sunday in the town of Ellon.

Under Salmond, nationalists came close to realizing their dream of making Scotland an independent country. In a Sept. 18 referendum, 45 percent of Scottish voters backed independence but 55 percent said no.

The London-based British Parliament is elected by voters in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Polls suggest the election is too close to call, and smaller parties such as the SNP and the anti-immigration U.K. Independence Party could end up holding significant power.

Salmond said a strong group of SNP lawmakers in London would be able to "rumble up" British politics and secure more powers for Scotland.

"In that Westminster difficulty, there lies an opportunity for Scotland," Salmond said.

The major parties have already agreed to grant Scotland new control over taxation and spending in a bid to make good on promises of more autonomy made during the referendum campaign. Salmond and other nationalists, however, say the powers do not go far enough.

Salmond, 59, previously served in the British Parliament between 1987 and 2010, and also sits in Scotland's Edinburgh-based legislature. He said if elected to both parliaments he would donate one of his salaries to charity.

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