LONDON Scotland could eventually join the euro, the country's pro-independence leader said on Wednesday, criticising Prime Minister David Cameron for leaving Britain isolated in the European Union.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond accused Cameron of "irresponsible posturing" over his decision last week to veto an EU Treaty on the euro zone debt crisis.
Cameron's move may have increased the chances of Salmond winning a promised referendum on Scotland ending its 300-year union with England and becoming an independent state within the EU.
The prime minister's stance is in part dictated by the demands of the right wing of his Conservative party which has virtually no representation north of the border in Scotland.
Salmond told BBC radio an independent Scotland would initially keep the pound, but joining the euro remained "a long-term possibility."
He added that a switch to the euro would only happen "if economic conditions were right," and with the assent of the Scottish people.
"We would only do it if you had a referendum, because it is a substantial change of constitutional position," he added.
European leaders at their Brussels summit agreed to strengthen budget oversight to prevent a repeat of a debt crisis that threatens to destabilise the single currency area.
Scotland, a nation of 5.2 million people, would not be forced to join the euro as a condition of EU membership, Salmond said, citing the example of Sweden, which has retained its krona currency since entering the EU in 1995.
Salmond has already written to Cameron protesting at the decision to use the veto at the EU summit "without a word of consultation" with Britain's devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
"I think it was possible to produce a situation where agreement could have been produced on the treaty. But David Cameron ...(took) a decision which might jeopardise the jobs of tens of thousands of other people," Salmond said.
"That's not leadership, that's isolationism, that irresponsible posturing," he added.
Cameron said he acted after failing to win safeguards for Britain's financial services. Scotland has a long banking tradition and Edinburgh remains an important centre for the finance industry.
(Reporting by Tim Castle, Editing by Mark Trevelyan)