Scottish independence: Legal battle lines to be drawn

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore The scottish secretary will say a referendum on Scottish independence will be merely advisory

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The Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore, will make a statement to the Commons on Tuesday on the legal status of a referendum on Scottish independence.

He will say that a vote organised by the Scottish government would be purely advisory and open to legal challenge since the power to change Scotland's constitutional status rests with Westminster.

He will offer to temporarily transfer that power to the Scottish Parliament providing that Alex Salmond's government agree to hold a vote which is "fair, decisive and clear" - ie is a simple once and for all YES or NO vote on independence and does not involve a second vote on greater powers for the Scottish Parliament.

Ministers fear that two votes risks creating confusion. They also argue that giving the Scottish Parliament greater powers over tax and spend without full independence would have knock-on consequences for the rest of the UK and so cannot be a matter for the Scottish people alone to decide on.

Although the statement will talk of a temporary transfer of power it will not impose any 18-month time limit.

However, the three Unionist parties - Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour - all argue that a vote should come sooner rather than later.

Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    The battle lines are drawn.

    On one side, the Scottish people.
    On the other, the forces of Westminster.


  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    as far as I know, the SNP were elected with a landslide and a clear policy of Independence from the UK.

    Fair enough.

    It's time for England to start behaving as if they were already independent in terms of government contracts, ship building and all the rest of it. We have companies here in the UK that could do with the work.

    No need to wait - let's just get on with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Nick Robinson's previous article and this one is in line with biased approach to political journalism. Arguments over North Sea oil revenue? That's pretty clear cut. The lines are agreed upon through international rules. The only ambiguity is what to do about Blair's outrageous attempt to redraw the lines unilaterally when agreeing to devolution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Any discussion on breaking up the UK requires a full vote by all of the UK in a full UK national referendum as any vote in Scotland on Scottish Independence may subsequently include or require the transfer of UK sovereign powers to the EU by the 'back-door' of Scotland.

    Has anyone in Westminster thought about that one yet?

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Mr Robinson
    Mr Moore finally catches up with common representation on the legal matter.
    The electorate in Scotland voted for the Union at the general election of 2010. They sent 59/59 MP's to sit in the Union Parliament.


Comments 5 of 212


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