Scottish independence: Does it take two to separate?

 
Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon says Westminster is interfering in Scottish business

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"Here we go again... another Tory-led government interfering in Scotland".

That is how Alex Salmond's Deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, responded to the news that David Cameron wants to give the Edinburgh government the legal power to hold a referendum - but only with strings attached.

At issue here is a very simple principle. The government in Westminster is saying: "It takes two to separate".

In other words, breaking up the UK is not a matter for Scotland alone. In so doing, they are echoing the behaviour of the Canadian government in the face of repeated attempts by Quebec to secede.

Tortuous process

After two referenda were held in Quebec - one in 1980 and one in 1995 - and after a painfully close result - 50.58% against versus 49.42% in favour, the Canadian Parliament passed a Clarity Act.

It gave the Canadian House of Commons the power to decide whether a proposed referendum question was considered clear before any vote, to judge whether a clear majority for change had been expressed and to override a referendum decision, if it felt the referendum violated any of the tenets of the Clarity Act.

It is a reminder that, were Scots to back independence, this would mark the beginning and not the end of a long, tortuous process of negotiation between the Scottish and Westminster governments - over currency, the monarchy, the armed forces, North Sea oil revenues, pension rights and much more besides.

Unionist politicians believe the more they can force the electorate to focus on that now, the less likely Scots will be to back the idea.

The reason the Scottish Secretary is planning to unveil his approach this week is because the Scotland Bill - which gives the Scottish Parliament some new powers - returns to the House of Lords in a couple of weeks.

Passionate Unionists in both the Tory and Labour parties are lining up a series of amendments designed to limit Alex Salmond's freedom of movement.

The Coalition wants to get in first.

 
Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 494.

    @CyberHippie44
    I can't wait for the Scots to go. As for not understanding economics, I agree, my degree is in astrophysics. You don't understand bailout economics if you think Scotland wouldn't have become like Iceland. Also, with a Scottish currency will you suffer more due to inflation? what about your exports? Would an English veto stop Scots entry to EU? Please enlighten me oh wise one.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 493.

    Summers - no definetly wrong forum for you I'm afraid. I think we can leave this forum to the ranting nationalists and confused others. I look forward to seeing the sensible Scots at the 'no' vote, when we will consigne the two 'chancers' Salmond and Sturgeon to the desert of political opportunism. Rant on Cyberpuppy et al, wherever you are (I believe it's not Scotland)

  • rate this
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    Comment number 492.

    488, this forum is exactly the place for my comments as the break up of the union is inevitable. Formed by Scottish settlers? Im stating the facts in 1921, whereby it was forced on the North. Scottish, Irish & Welsh all deserve independence after hundreds of years of the English playing 'divide & conquer'. Unless you are a unionist you do not want to be part of Britain or have a British passport.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 491.

    Cyberhippie - So when the Royal Bank of SCOTLAND loses 50 billion, it's everyone else's fault, not the fault of their Scottish Senior Executives the chief of which is determined to have his full recompense despite his poor performance. You say it invested (threw away) its money in England and elsewhere, Salmond was one of their foreign investment staff. Why didn't they/he invest in Scotland?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 490.

    Cyberhippie - Vote and go - but lets be clear you will carry your liabilities with you. Given that the majority of Oil is in International waters its not even going to be possible to continue to peddle the oil will fund us myth. You have not addressed the economics of your independence just more hate like all nationalists - how will you define yourself when you can no longer blame Westminster

 

Comments 5 of 494

 

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