Alex Salmond has claimed that Scotland could declare itself independent without a referendum in the future.
The Scottish First Minister, who has said he is standing down after voters failed to back independence last week, said a referendum was the “best route” to statehood, but added that there were others.
He said if the Scottish Parliament was given more powers until “you have a situation where you’re independent in all but name … “then presumably, you declare yourself to be independent”.
“Many countries have proceeded through that route,” he said in an interview with Sky News’ Murnaghan programme.
Mr Salmond has previously said that he would accept the referendum result and that it was a “once in a generation” event. However, he said on Sunday that “there are always things can change circumstances”, saying if the UK voted to leave the European Union then Scotland or if the main UK parties failed to honour a pledge to devolve more power to Edinburgh then having another vote would be justified.
Mr Salmond also said that demographics would see support for independence rising in the coming years.
“I mean when you have a situation where the majority of a country up to the age of 55 is already voting for independence then I think the writing’s on the wall for Westminster,” he said.
“I think the destination is pretty certain, we are only now debating the timescale and the method.
“I think Scots of my generation and above should really be looking at themselves in the mirror and wonder if we by majority, as a result of our decision, have actually impeded progress for the next generation which is something no generation should do.”
Johann Lamont, the Scottish Labour leader, told The Daily Telegraph that Mr Salmond should not try to “overthrow the will of the Scottish people in some sort of coup”.
“Having decisively lost a democratic referendum on independence, Alex Salmond is now suggesting the nationalists can ignore the sovereign will of the Scottish people,” she said.
“His words are fundamentally undemocratic and an insult to the people of Scotland. Salmond may regret the result but this reaction is dangerous and wrong.”
Adam Tomkins, professor of public law at the University of Glasgow, said a unilateral declaration of independence would be illegal and “bonkers”.
Scottish Independence Vote further reading
Scottish independence: Publicans really nail their colours to the mast
Scottish independence: Battle between Yes and No takes a bitter twist in final hours of campaigning
Scottish independence: No camp drowned out by noisy, flamboyant and abrasive rivals who sense historic win
Scottish independence: Break-up of the Union could hit Northern Ireland, warn business chiefs
Scottish independence: Ties that bind Northern Ireland and Scotland go way back and will survive the referendum
Scottish independence: From oil and the pound to the Queen and tax - everything you need to know about the referendum
Will Rod Stewart abandon his love for Scotland? Will the Krankies sing for their country at Eurovision? And what would independence mean for Northern Ireland?
Scotland votes: Forget Izzard, David Bowie and Beckham - Scots shouldn't look to the stars for a decision on its future
Scotland referendum Yes vote would be a massive No, insists Danske Bank
Scottish independence: Breaking up would be a painful divorce, warns Cameron
Scottish referendum: Focus on devolved tax powers issue whatever Scottish result
Scottish independence: David Beckham joins 'No' campaign urging voters to save the Union
Scottish independence: Unionists must change tack to save the Union
Scottish independence: Queen 'hopes voters think carefully' over Union vote
Scottish referendum a chance to send Tories a message
Scottish independence: Storm over Lord Dannatt's 'betrayal of soldiers' comments
Scottish independence: Yes vote supporters attack BBC over pro-Union 'bias'
The Queen hopes Scots will ''think very carefully'' before voting in the independence referendum
Orange Order calls for 'No' vote in Scottish independence referendum at Edinburgh rally
Queen will not be dragged into Scottish independence debate, Palace warns No camp
Scots independence referendum result too close to call
Scottish independence: Unionists in Northern Ireland can expect a border poll of their own in the not-too-distant future
Westminster elite in a panic as more voters are backing Scottish independence, says Alex Salmond
UK is the envy of the world, David Cameron tells Scots
Scottish independence: Scotland is different...you only have to watch Braveheart or read the 1707 Act of Union to see how different
Orange Order staging march in Edinburgh in support of Union: Thousands due at parade ahead of Scottish referendum
Scottish independence: Just days to go in one of the longest political campaigns in history
Scottish 'yes' is a big no, no according to Peter Scudamore
Scottish independence: Whether Yes or No, we can learn lessons from the Scots
Shift towards Yes camp up by 38% as campaigns neck-and-neck according to TNS Scotland survey
Gordon Brown makes devolution vow in bid to spike Yes campaign guns
Economist warns Scotland 'to be afraid of independence'
Scottish Referendum: Wait and see the outcome before dealing with any implications, says Martin McGuinness
No and Yes neck and neck, poll says
Scottish independence: Yes vote would have repercussions on border control
Scotland swings to Yes but Alex Salmond isn't resting on his laurels
Scots offered more powers if they reject independence
Pro-independence Yes campaign leads polls for first time in Scottish referendum battle
Scottish independence: Logic of staying in United Kingdom is slow to sink in
Scottish independence: A matter for the head and heart
Referendum outcome won't affect us - SDC Trailers aims to stay close to hauliers
Scotland independence could bring tax breaks for North Sea oil industry
Alistair Darling: Scottish independence referendum will go right to the wire
Scottish independence: Trade and cultural links too strong to ever break
Scottish referendum: London sells us short in buying No vote
Independence: What's the next step for Scotland and how will Northern Ireland people living there vote?