Alex Salmond has refused to rule out a reconciliation with his successor, Nicola Sturgeon, saying he would be “sad” if they remained on poor terms.
Ms Sturgeon, who stepped down as SNP leader and Scottish first minister earlier this year, had once been close to her predecessor, but the pair had a well-publicised falling out after allegations of sexual harassment were made against Mr Salmond.
He was cleared of all charges against him after a high court trial, but Ms Sturgeon has continued to insist that the relationship with her former mentor cannot be repaired.
Asked about the falling out as he appeared at Iain Dale All Talk at the Edinburgh Fringe, Mr Salmond would only say “never say never” when it came to trying to rebuild their relationship.
The former SNP leader, who now heads up the rival pro-independence Alba Party, said he had been “oblivious” when Ms Sturgeon had told the same show last year she had not been in touch with Mr Salmond since.
Asked if he could see a situation where the pair could ever reconcile on Tuesday, Mr Salmond said: “You should never say never.”
On the prospect of not speaking to his successor again, he added: “I would be sad if that was the case.”
But, referring to the Police Scotland investigation into SNP finances, which has seen both Ms Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell both arrested, before being released without charge, Mr Salmond added to “be quite frank I think Nicola has got more immediate things to worry about”.
His comments came as he claimed the Alba Party could potentially win 24 seats at the next Scottish Parliament elections – with Mr Salmond adding this could see they party become a “key part” in an independence coalition in the Scottish Parliament.
Alba has yet to have a parliamentarian elected to either Westminster or Holyrood, with the party’s two MPs, Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill, both defecting from the SNP to Alba after being elected.
Speaking about the support for his party, Mr Salmond said that “these things take time”, adding that “political parties take time to establish themselves”.
With Holyrood elections fought using proportional representation, Mr Salmond continued: “The target for Alba is to get 15% of the vote on the regional list vote, that will get us about 24 seats.
“And if the cards fall correctly we will be able to be a key part of an independence coalition in that Parliament.”
That coalition should then proceed “in terms of seeking a mandate to negotiate independence”, Mr Salmond said, saying that the “the referendum route has been blocked, partly due to the tactics employed by Nicola”.
His comments came as he insisted he still had “something to contribute” to the fight for Scottish independence.
Mr Salmond said: “In terms of independence strategy I feel I have something to contribute. I did provide a way for Scotland to vote on independence – for many, many years, that had proved impossible.
“The vote didn’t go the way I wanted it to but at least we had the mechanism for people to exercise the right of self determination, and I think I could help contribute to that again.”