David Cameron, Alex Salmond and Scotland's referendum

David Cameron and Alex Salmond, pictured in 2011 David Cameron and Alex Salmond, pictured in 2011

They shake hands. They smile for the cameras. They hail an agreement which allows the people of Scotland to determine their own future. However, both men will know that there can only be one winner.

Either David Cameron is set to become the last Prime Minister of this United Kingdom, or Alex Salmond is on course to be the first nationalist leader forced to admit that his country has rejected the chance to become an independent nation.

In a little over two years Mr Cameron could return to Edinburgh as the leader of a foreign country, or Mr Salmond could still be coming to London as just one of the leaders of one of the parts of the UK.

This is a decision which will affect people in Accrington as well as Aberdeen and Cardiff as well as Cowdenbeath. It will have an impact not just on the taxes raised and the money spent throughout the UK, but also on such diverse questions as the location of army, navy and airforce bases, how our interest rate is determined and, even, the future of the BBC.

If Scots vote for independence there would be a natural English Conservative majority in the rump UK. If they vote against, Scottish politics will, for the first time in decades, not be dominated by the promise or the threat of separation from the rest of the UK.

That finality is the real point of today's agreement which heralds the transferring of power from Westminster to Edinburgh to hold a simple yes/no independence referendum by the end of 2014. It is meant to ensure that there is no dispute, no confusion, no rival interpretations which could see a court of law rather than the people determine Scotland's destiny.

Yet, for all this talk of resolving the future once and for all, it is worth remembering that Scots will not be able to vote for what many say they want and what all the biggest parties here advocate - namely more powers for Scotland within the UK.

Many Unionists assume that today marks the beginning of the end of Alex Salmond's dream as the polls suggest that there is no majority for independence.

Providing he can hold his party together and ensure this vote is not seen as a referendum on him - both big ifs - Scotland's First Minister may consider more powers a pretty good consolation prize.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Typical reporting there by Nick Robinson! The SNP never wanted that second question - it was always a bargaining chip! Now, let's get on with the real debate!

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Also would a break up of the union mean we loose our place at the United Nations, as party of the EU, G7 and NATO?

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    I am one of of those English living in Scotland (since 2005) - but married to a Scots lassie and with a job in the City of London. DrHandley (@#34) is not only mad but a racist - this is exactly what I fear should the Independence vote win. Not that I will be repatriated (because I am certainly not going to ask for Scottish citizenship thanks) but that idiots like him think I should be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Scots hopefully will get their independence.

    The creation of the Scottish Parliament has done so much good for Scotland and hopefully this next step will help Scottish society to continue improving and growing.

    The SNP should push the issue of Land Reform which is essential in Scotland now and which the Westminster has always been against.
    Dont forget the rich estate "own" most of Scotland.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    I look forward to Scotland becoming a Proud, Free and Independant Nation again, as we were before our so called 'Noble Men' sold us out to an English King for Land and Money. Yes we will join the Euro, it makes sense, at least Europe will take our 'Scottish Money' in the shops. We will be Inventive, canny frugal and hard working... Dinna worry about us, worry about an England without us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    In 2014 we now have 2 clear choices:

    1) Vote for the Union and no change from the status quo.
    2) Vote for Independence and begin to shape our own destiny.

    I will vote for Independence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Dear Scotland
    Feel free to vote for independence
    You'll now have to pay for your tuition fees, your care homes, your prescriptions and probably have to join the Euro too - unless you continue to want your currency underwritten by the auld enemy
    Good luck with all that - but don't come crying to us when Merkel has annexed you

    Dear England: say goodbye to North Sea oil and gas revenue

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    40 Not neccessarily, the SNP have demonstrated that they are capable of running Scotland over the last 6 years, and have done a far better job than the current UK coalition. Whilst it would be a huge blow to Salmond, is it any different to Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland?

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    The seeds have been sown & Independence will happen once Scotland starts taking its 'full fair share' of the flood of economic & other migrants looking to relocate to the UK - currently Scotland is not the preferred destination of UK migrants because there's a lot less there - but things can & probably will change. Independence has to happen - there are to many dissenters & problems coming from EU

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    with so much anti scottish rhetoric on this blog I'm surprised the UK lasted so long. Maybe Scotland will be better off as a Republic. at least they will be able to implement laws to deal with the sort of blatant racism contained on this blog. shame on you all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    The English have stoically kept their counsel or issued requests for unity in the face of Scottish name calling.
    If the referendum was to see Scotland independent I don't see English goodwill continuing. Pressure will be on English politicians to extract the best possible deal for England or bear the electorial consequences.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    '30. ferafestiva
    most English are fed up to the back teeth with Scots moaning about us so really we'd be happy if you left the Union, really we would.'

    There is no proof to your statement. You don't know how other English people feel on this subject. It is your opinion only. I am sure e.g. HM would take the opposite view from you about the political breakup of the UK. The Great Con continues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Good, a binary yes or no to independence is the right referendum question. The Scots have all they need to decide.

    I thought it would get fudged with a third option ('DevoMax') and I'm pleased that's not the case.

    I both think and hope they'll vote no, in which case the issue should be iced for the foreseeable future.

    But if they vote yes, fine. They have that right of self-determination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Regardless of whether you are for or against independence surely there is a consensus that if the vote is overwhelmingly no then Salmond must resign?

    Also the SNP will have an election similar to the Liberals next time around as i can't understand what you would vote for them for?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    34 DrHandley

    Are you mad?

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Endada: read the fine print, that's not what's being voted for. Wee Eck, being a Monarchists will be keeping the Queen as head of State. Or at least that's what he's promised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.


    Would those bankers be the ones in charge of the Royal bank of Scotland by any chance?

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    22 ferafestiva:

    Dear uneducated one,

    We will. We already do. We will or not but only when or if we think so. We'll keep the pound for as long as we want because we own it too. Thanks but we won't be running back to anyone of "you", anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

    Yours with hugs,

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Why engage the Electoral Commission watchdog if Cameron & Salmond let 16-17 year olds vote?

    Who asked the British or Scottish electorate to approve this new extension to the number & age of voters not tried anywhere before in the UK for such an important vote for 10% of the UK populations on such a vital issue for us.

    It seem unconstitutional to me, whether I want to vote No, or No Thanks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    It will a great day if the Scots vote Yes to independence. It will give opportunities to both the Scots and the English to forge better cultural monogamy rather than diversity and multiculturalism. One of the things that should happen is all English people domiciled in Scotland - and Scots domiciled in England - should be asked to gain citizenship of their respective places or be repatriated..


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