Alex Salmond and David Cameron agree Scottish independence referendum
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and UK Prime Minister David Cameron meet in Edinburgh to sign an historic accord agreeing the principles of a referendum on Scottish independence, to be held in 2014.
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and UK Prime Minister David Cameron have met in Edinburgh to sign an historic agreement on a referendum on Scottish independence.
The poll in the autumn of 2014 could mean Scotland again becoming an independent nation, some three hundred years after becoming part of what is now the United Kingdom.
Scotland’s SNP Government received a clear mandate to hold a referendum as a result of their election victory in 2011, when they became the first party to hold an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament. However, important issues about the nature of the referendum have been contested by opposition parties and the UK Government, including the timing of the poll, whether there should be one or more questions on the ballot paper, and votes for sixteen and seventeen-year-olds.
As well as a straightforward yes or no question, the SNP and others have been considering the inclusion of a second question, allowing people to vote for increased powers for the Scottish Parliament short of full independence. This has been a major sticking point for those opposed to independence.
The agreement between Mr Salmond and Mr Cameron provides for the UK Government to extend to the Scottish Parliament temporary powers to ensure that the referendum can be conducted with full legality, and anticipates a single question, confirmation of the proposed timing, and votes for sixteen and seventeen-year-olds, who are not currently eligible to vote in UK elections..
The meeting between the two leaders comes after negotiations over the past month between the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore, and Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat Parties are all opposed to independence, with the Green Party in favour along with the SNP. A number of campaign groups have been formed to promote or oppose independence, notably the “Yes Scotland” and “Better Together” campaigns.