Scottish leader says opinion polls show independence race tightening

LONDON Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:59am EST

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LONDON Feb 24 (Reuters) - Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said on Monday that latest opinion polls showed the race for independence was tightening as he pledged that oil and gas policy in the North Sea would be more stable under an independent Scotland.

Speaking on the day the UK government is due to unveil a North Sea strategy as it tries to persuade Scotland to remain in the UK, Salmond said there had been 16 tax changes in the North Sea in 10 years and 14 oil ministers in 17 years.

"One of the things that a Scottish control of oil and gas would offer is a much more stable long-term policy," Salmond said in an interview on BBC radio.

The UK government will on Monday announce how it plans to unlock hard-to-extract North Sea gas and billions of barrels of oil and gas in a bid to persuade Scotland to remain part of the UK.

(Reporting by Karolin Schaps, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

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