Alex Salmond has called the current United Kingdom a “nonsense” that will cease to exist in 2014 despite opinion polls showing falling support for Scottish separation.

 Delivering his welcome address to delegates at the SNP conference in Perth, the First Minister said Scotland is closer now to independence than at any time since the Union with England in 1707.

He said the referendum deal he and David Cameron signed earlier this week was a “momentous, historic document” that contained a promise by the UK Government to respect the result of the vote in autumn 2014.