WHOEVER becomes Scotland’s next first minister should refuse to allow the Stone of Destiny to be returned to England for the King’s coronation, Alex Salmond has insisted.

Speaking on Sky News, the ex-FM said in the context of Scots wanting to have another vote on independence, he doesn’t think the Scottish Government should allow the historic stone – famously stolen by the English in 1296 – to be returned to Westminster.

SNP members will have the chance to vote for either Kate Forbes, Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan to be Nicola Sturgeon’s replacement from Monday, March 13.

Asked if he would urge whoever wins the contest to refuse to allow the stone to go back across the Border, Salmond said: “I probably would actually, but the authorities would probably whip it away before the contest is finalised.

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“That was the kind of underhand trick [which saw it] stolen in the first place.”

He added: “It’s not my most serious policy that I ‘m putting forward, but you know, in a context where the legitimate desire of people in Scotland to at least have a referendum on self-determination has been denied by the Westminster government, I don’t really see why any Scottish Government should just meekly say ‘we’ll give you back the property which you stole 700 years ago’.”

Last month, Church of England leaders were told they must reject the use of the Stone of Destiny in the ceremony.

Retired priest Charles Mugleston wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York calling for the Scottish relic not to be used at the coronation as a “gesture of respect” to the people of Scotland.

The Stone of Scone – also known as the Stone of Destiny – was stolen by King Edward during the first Scottish War of Independence and placed in Westminster Abbey, though some doubt exists over whether this was actually the real stone or whether the English were tricked into taking a substitute.

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A group of students in 1950 then took the stone taken by Edward back and placed it on the altar of Arbroath Abbey before it was returned to London four months later. Again, there were rumours that copies of the stone had been made and the returned stone was not the original.

That stone was officially returned to Scotland in 1996 and placed in Edinburgh Castle. In December 2020 it went to Perth City Hall, set to become Perth Museum next year.

There are plans for it to taken back down south for the coronation of King Charles III in May.

When Queen Elizabeth was crowned in 1953 at Westminster Abbey, her throne sat above the stone.