Scottish independence vote threatens Britain

MICHAEL HOLDEN
Last updated 11:26 10/10/2012

Relevant offers

Europe

Sweden mocks US President Donald Trump over his false claim about attack Small cafe shoots to fame after Michelin star mix-up British lawmakers to debate Donald Trump's state visit to meet Queen after petition One killed, 27 hurt as train derails in Belgium, east of Brussels Documentary to examine what went wrong in 'Elephant Man' drug trial Scientists recreate face of a man murdered 1400 years ago Skeleton discovered in well on Crete, near where British tourist Steven Cook vanished Former PM Tony Blair urges Britons to 'rise up' against May's Brexit plan Mexican woman says she was stolen as a baby in Spain An unearthed essay reveals Winston Churchill anticipated space travel and aliens

Scotland will hold a vote in 2014 on independence in what could result in the eventual breakup of Britain, a British government minister said on Tuesday.

The announcement ended months of stalemate between the Westminster government in London and the Scottish devolved administration in Edinburgh.

‘‘What will happen is that Westminster will devolve the power to the Scottish parliament to hold a single-question referendum on whether Scotland should be in or out of the United Kingdom,’’ Scotland Office minister David Mundell told Sky News.

‘‘We anticipate that happening in autumn 2014.’’

Mundell’s comments suggested both sides had compromised over the timing and format of the referendum.

‘‘There’s a meeting on Monday,’’ a government source said when asked about the reported agreement, adding there was no guarantee a deal would be reached.

British prime minister David Cameron, who wants to keep Britain intact, had backed holding a vote as soon as possible on whether to end Scotland’s 300-year-old union with England, with a simple ‘‘yes’’ or ‘‘no’’ single question.

Alex Salmond, leader of Scotland’s nationalist government, had sought a third option to be included in the vote, allowing additional powers to be passed to the Scottish parliament.

However, he had also pushed for a delay until 2014, the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, a famous Scottish victory over the English, giving his independence campaign more time to persuade voters to support the split.

Polls suggest between 30 and 40 per cent of Scots currently support independence.

The Scottish government said ‘‘substantial progress’’ towards an agreement had been made and a final deal was almost ready.

‘‘We are, however, on track for the full agreement to be presented to the first minister (Salmond) and the prime minister over the next few days,’’ a spokesman said.

Under the devolved system of government, the Scottish parliament has control over health, education and prisons.

It also has the power to pass laws on a range of subjects and to raise or lower the basic rate of income tax by up to three pence in the pound, while Scotland also has its own legal system.

Cameron argues that Scots, and Britain as a whole, would be worse off if they voted for independence, as the bulk of Scotland’s funding comes from a 30 billion pound (NZ$58 billion) grant from the UK government.

Ad Feedback

However, Salmond has said an independent Scotland would be entitled to the lion’s share of North Sea oil revenues.

A Scottish vote for independence would undermine the foundations of modern Britain which comprises England, Scotland and Wales.

Northern Ireland and Britain make up the United Kingdom.

- Reuters

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content