GLASGOW –– Alex Salmond is to step down as Scottish first minister after voters rejected independence.
He will also resign as leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which he has led for a total of 20 years.
Scottish voters backed the country staying in the United Kingdom by 2,001,926 votes to 1,617,989 in yesterday’s referendum.
Elsewhere, rival Union and independence supporters gathered in George Square, in the centre of Glasgow, where they were being separated by police.
Officers on horseback were also at the scene.
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said there were about 100 people in each of the two groups, and although there had been some “minor disorder” it had been dealt with quickly, with no arrests so far. The square is closed to traffic with local diversions in place.
The square had hosted a party by Yes supporters ahead of the referendum.
BBC Scotland reporter Cameron Buttle, who is at the scene, said the confrontation started quickly with flares being fired and a “co-ordinated” charge from the Unionist side, who were singing Rule Britannia.
Meanwhile, the Queen has said Scotland’s vote to stay in the Union was “a result that all of us throughout the United Kingdom will respect”.
She added: “Knowing the people of Scotland as I do, I have no doubt that Scots, like others throughout the United Kingdom, are able to express strongly held opinions before coming together again in a spirit of mutual respect and support,”
Elsewhere, Prime Minister David Cameron said the three main Westminster parties would now deliver their campaign pledge to boost the powers of Scotland’s devolved parliament.
Salmond, 59, is Scotland’s longest-serving first minister, having held the post since the SNP won power at the Scottish Parliament in May 2007.
Speaking from his official residence at Bute House in Edinburgh, the first minister told journalists: “For me as leader, my time is nearly over, but for Scotland the campaign continues and the dream shall never die.
“I am immensely proud of the campaign that Yes, Scotland fought and particularly of the 1.6 million voters who rallied to that cause.”
Salmond said he would resign as SNP leader at the party’s conference in November, before standing down as first minister when the party elects its next leader in a membership ballot.
He said there were a “number of eminently qualified and very suitable candidates” to replace him.