A row with girlfriend that could divorce England from Scotland

EDINBURGH, Feb 24, 2008 (AFP) – Alex Salmond, the head of Scotland’s government, has spent his political life fighting for independence from London but says he bears no ill-will towards the “auld enemy”, the English.

Nine months after his election as first minister, Salmond sits in his elegant official residence in Edinburgh insisting that independence could soothe, not aggravate, the sometimes grumpy relationship between Scotland and England.

England would “lose a surly lodger and gain a good neighbour” if Scots back independence in a referendum in 2010, he says — all the while stressing his admiration for England.

“The current situation of grievances north and south of the border is aggravated by the constitutional position,” he told AFP.

“I believe that England and Scotland would be happier self-governing, totally self-governing, than they are in terms of the relationship.

“I think a relationship of equals is always better than one which is in a broad sense dependent in one way or another.”

Salmond has embodied the campaign for independence for nearly two decades, but the round-faced, 53-year-old former Royal Bank of Scotland economist provokes mixed reactions.

He joined the Sc