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Claims from Iain Duncan Smith that an independent Scotland would be unable to afford its welfare bill have been slammed as "nonsensical rubbish" by Alex Salmond.
The Work and Pensions Secretary earlier claimed if "the unthinkable happened" an independent Scotland could not meet the cost of supporting the unemployed without "cutting services or raising" taxes.
But the Scottish First Minister said Mr Duncan Smith had got his figures wrong, and labelled his comments "offensive".
Speaking after meeting with David Cameron and the leaders of other devolved administrations, Mr Salmond said: "His statement was nonsensical, but I think particularly offensive in terms of the suffering that’s been caused, particularly for people on Disability Living Allowance by his policies.
"Yesterday in the Scottish Parliament we had evidence from somebody with disability, blindness, who was detailing how Iain Duncan Smith’s changes to welfare had reduced him to penury.
"The man responsible for that has got the audacity to come to Scotland and tell us that we couldn’t afford to have a compassionate and proper welfare protection."
Mr Salmond said there had been "good will" within his meeting with the Prime Minister, but claimed that there was still a chance for discussions over independence to be "blown off-course".
"In terms of the negotiations it was good will for having this matter settled in the next few weeks, in terms of the format for the referendum, and then getting onto the real substance which was the arguments for an independent Scotland," he said.
"So there was good will within the meeting, but of course it’s possible that noises from people like Iain Duncan Smith could still blow things off-course.”
Labour MP Margaret Curran has accused the SNP leader of “promising Scandinavian levels of welfare with Irish levels of taxation”, and claimed the party’s position is unsustainable.
“This notion that somehow if we just tear ourselves apart from the Union all will be well – you know Alex Salmond will promise levels of corporation tax that actually would lead to a huge gap in public spending, never tell us how to fill that gap, but still pretend that nothing else will change. That’s simply not tenable," she told BBC News.
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19/09/2012 on BBC News
19/09/2012 on BBC News
Summaries and transcripts from TV and radio
46 minutes ago on Breakfast, BBC One
50 minutes ago on Today, BBC Radio 4
17/06/2013 on BBC News