Scottish independence: Referendum question set out

Key points

  • First Minister Alex Salmond delivered his statement to MSPs at Holyrood on the future of a Scottish independence referendum.
  • The SNP leader announced his government's intention to hold a public consultation into the issues surrounding the vote.
  • The Westminster coalition launched its public consultation into the referendum during a statement in the House of Commons last week.

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    Hello and welcome to our live video and text coverage of First Minister Alex Salmond's statement to Holyrood on his consultation plans for a Scottish independence referendum.


    writes: "In theory, no problem with Scotland being independent if that is what the majority want; however, how would this affect the monarchy and wouldn't independence also mean a removal of all the UK's armed forces located in Scotland. I doubt that a new Scotland would have the resources and money available to start any form of armed force".


    First Minister Alex Salmond will be getting to his feet just after 13:30, when the Scottish Parliament meets, to make his statement on the referendum consultation.

    Glenn Campbell Political correspondent, BBC Scotland

    I'll be hosting a live television debate on the Scottish independence referendum. The special BBC One Scotland programme starts at 22:35 and runs for an hour. As well as on TV, you can watch the debate online.

    Susan Rutherford , Jedburgh

    emails: "In my opinion a referendum on Scottish Independence is a total waste of money. It's quite unjustified in the present economic mess that the world is in and shows that our so called political leaders are not up to the job."

    1319: Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    We can expect the first minister to outline details of a bill on the referendum, including a possible ballot paper question. Following the statement, he'll then take questions from opposition parties and other MSPs.


    writes: "good luck Scotland whatever you decide".


    To follow the debate on twitter use #indyref

    1324: Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    As well as the referendum statement, MSPs are also dealing with the small matter of the first vote on the Scottish budget - which is usually the main parliamentary story around this time of year.


    @Charonqc: Loving fact that Salmond chooses Burns Day for his BIG announcement on Scot Indep...and Bannockburn year Anniv for Referendum


    Alex Salmond was setting out his case for independence itself in a speech last night

    Fred Compton, Caterham

    emails: "I presume that if devolution is voted for in Scotland then this should be ratified at Westminster and as this affects all of us in the UK, I think that the Welsh, Irish and English should also be allowed to vote on this issue".


    Time for reflection is now under way in the parliament chamber, and then Alex Salmond will speak.


    First Minister Alex Salmond (FM) is on his feet, and the referendum statement is under way now.

    Paul Cochrane, Glasgow

    emails: "With all parties agreeing that the referendum is the biggest issue in UK/Scottish history, and that it should be legal and proper, I can't think why the unionist parties are so determined to rush it through."


    FM begins by saying the the people of Scotland should decide their own future - setting the tone for the Scottish government's public consultation.

    1337: Breaking News

    FM says the ballot paper question would be: "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?"


    Gathering around computer in Westminster for FM statement. Historic day. #indyref


    FM says the question meets all the Electoral Commission rules on being appropriate for a referendum

    Marga, Barcelona, Spain

    emails: "To answer people like Sevvy, don't forget that lots of things are still to be decided, but one thing is clear: Scotland will get its fair share of British assets, including the army, oil and whisky revenues, social security payments too. Let's look forward to the debate!"


    FM gives way on letting the Electoral Commission watchdog oversee the referendum - despite earlier criticising it as a body "which answers to the UK parliament".


    FM confirms voter eligibility will be based on residency - ie, if you live in Scotland, you get a vote.


    For more on the consultation document issued by the Scottish government, look here.


    FM will press the case to give 16 and 17-year-olds a vote - something the UK government does not agree with.


    @petermacmahon An electoral management board, and the Electoral Commission. How does that work? #indyref


    FM says the consultation will ask people if they favour a second question on the ballot paper asking about more powers for the Scottish Parliament.


    @BBCJamesCook: Salmond: we are for independence but if "maximum devolution" commands wide support then it should be an option. #indyref


    FM says he's willing to work with the UK government on devolving powers to make the referendum legal.

    Mark, London

    emails: "Isn't this just about Alex Salmond wanting to be immotalised in history as the man who split the union? Shouldn't the whole of the UK have a say in this? After all, it is about the breakup of our union."


    FM also explains his autumn 2014 timescale by saying something of this size must follow proper process - that's in the face of UK government calls to hold the referendum sooner, rather than later.


    Ah, Happy Burns Night was trending and Alex Salmon makes his independence speech. He's a PR genius.


    On Burns day, FM goes from quoting the Bard to the late SNP MSP Bashir Ahmad, who once said "it is not where you come from that matters, but where we are going together".


    FM: "There can be no doubt that this parliament needs full economic powers."


    FM says independence is based "on a simple idea", namely that the future of Scotland should be guided by its own people.


    FM says Scotland "can be independent and interdependent" - standing on its own two feet and working alongside others at the same time.

    Graeme Lawson, Aberdeen

    emails: "I think FM is trying to pull out all stops in getting votes by getting 16 to 17 year olds to vote amongst other issues as well".


    FM says independence "is the natural state for people" he adds: "Not being independent is the exception".


    FM says an independent Scotland would have the 6th highest GDP per capita in the OECD.


    Johann Lamont says she regrets that the first minister has continued to decline calls for all party talks


    Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont begins questions by reflecting on Burns's call for people to be humble and reflect on their responsibilities.


    @sarahsmithC4: Historic day in Holyrood #indyref. Statesman like performance from Salmond whether you agree or not Scotland should be an independent county


    Ms Lamont says Mr Salmond mis-represents those who disagree with breaking away with the UK. She calls for co-operation and partnership rather than separation.


    @BBCJamesCook: Salmond: we will have a new social union with the other nations of these islands, sharing the Queen as head of state. #indyref


    Only Scottish residents will vote in indy ref. Good news - means as an ex-pat I can ignore the next 3 years of squabbling without guilt


    @zopalok: A 2014 referendum will give Scots plenty of time to digest the arguments.By 2014 we will be experts on independence #indyref


    How will SNP determine referendum voter eligibility amongst Armed Services personnel?


    Mr Salmond says the consultation invites people to come forward with their ideas. He says Ms Lamont accuses him of shaping the views of the Labour party. "Well someone needs to!", he says.


    Mr Salmond suggests that a relationship based on the equality of independent status would be better than the current unequal relationship.


    Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson says the people of Scotland want a fair, legal and decisive referendum, held as soon as possible. "We want co-operation not confrontation", she says.

    Arlene Foster, Glasgow,

    writes: "Having lived and worked as a Scot in London for about 13 years and having returned in 1998, I would still be quite wary of Scotland gaining full independence. While we tend to prosper away from home, Scotland still remains a 'closed-shop' to outsiders in many of its sectors. I would fear that we might become even more parochial in our outlook with independence."


    Ms Davidson wants the first minister to enter in to talks with the UK government in "good faith".


    Scottish people, from what I see, want independence. Good. English taxpayers aren't too keen on funding your free university education.


    FM says he will "co-operate". "Offer of a Section 30 is something I welcome," says FM. But there are very few people who believe the UK government offer should be accompanied by "pulling strings" on the referendum, the FM adds. He questions why the Tories should dictate a referendum when they don't agree with it.


    Scotland's referendum should be based on the "impeccable process", FM says. This is the most important decision this nation has taken for 300 years.


    Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie says the consultation announcement is more Shakespeare than Burns - "much ado about nothing"


    Willie Rennie asks if Devo Max gets more support than independence would that option be passed?


    Let's get this right, if Scotland votes for "independence" then why keep the Queen as the head of state? & which means the UK will continue

    1405: Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    One of the key messages of Alex Salmond's statement is appealing to people who are scared of independence, by saying that Scotland going it alone could actually improve relations with the rest of the British Isles. As he put it himself: "I want Scotland to be independent, not because I think we are better than any other country, but because I know we are just as good as any other country.


    The total cost of the referendum will be about \u00a310m, says the consultation


    Historic day in Holyrood #indyref. Statesman like performance from Salmond whether you agree or not Scotland should be an independent county


    FM says he has a clear memory of Lord Steel [Lib Dem] passionately talking about a multi-option referendum.


    SNP MSP Christina McKelvie asks if an independent Scotland will see an end to the "obscenity" of nuclear weapons in Scotland. The first minister says "yes, I can".


    @GlennBBC: We'll be debating the #indyref on BBC1 Scotland tonight at 2235 in the Big Debate: Choosing Scotland's Future.


    Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson asks about the legal authority for stating that Scotland would be a member of the EU after independence.


    FM asked to publish legal advice on European membership. Mr Salmond says there's a range of external legal opinion which shows that Scotland would negotiate its position from "within the context" of the EU. He says he can't think of a situation where Europe would not welcome Scotland and the remainder of the UK into the family.


    Maureen Watt, of the SNP, says the 1979 referendum on devolution was "gerrymandered" by Westminster. She calls for the referendum to be run in Scotland.


    A trip down memory lane now, to the 1979 devolution referendum, and the "40%" rule on voter turnout which was required.


    16/17 yr olds pay tax and go to war which the tories and labour support but they don't think they deserve a vote on the future of scotland.


    Labour's Richard Baker asks for exact date of referendum and guarantee that it will not be later than autumn 2014.


    FM says in response to Labour's Richard Baker on an exact date for the referendum that the Scottish government has set out the timescale.


    @Steviebhoye: Born in Scotland, of Scots Parents and Grandparents. Happen to live in England! Why no referendum vote? I am as Scots as you . . . #Salmond


    FM also making reference to the Ron Gould report into the 2007 Holyrood election voting fiasco, which recommended a "cooling off period" between the passing of legislation and its use.


    comments: I for one will be voting for independance as it will be my democratic right to do so, so within reason to some I must hate the people of England for doing so? well, no, I do not, I personally have no problem with England or her people, I just want it so that we in Scotland run our OWN country, and if we make mistakes along the way, so be it...


    The SNP's Stuart MacMillan, who says he comes from England, calls on all people who live in Scotland to get involved in consultation.


    Labour's Kezia Dugdale asks child protection issues about 14 and 15 year olds being put on the electoral register in preparation for being allowed to vote.

    1414: Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    The consultation floats the idea of "mobile polling stations" and voting in shops, as well as voting on a Saturday - quite a change from turning up to your local church hall or school to cast a vote! Want to know a little more on the history of Thursday voting? Read this piece from our reporter Hannah Livingston.


    Tory MSP David McLetchie asks if the first minister intends to falsify the views of any more constitutional experts.


    Labour's Neil Findlay asks for informed debate devoid of abuse of those who hold a different view.


    FM says in response to Neil Findlay: "yes"


    @TimReidBBC: SG proposes spending limit of \u00a3750,000 for leading yes no campaign groups, \u00a3250,000 for each political party.


    In answer to Lewis Macdonald, FM again says the timetable is fully set out in the referendum document.


    FM says in response to SNP's Rod Campbell that a "section 30" offer from the UK government on legal powers to run the referendum must be genuine and not be an attempt to run it from Westminster.


    Am heartsick - SNP & Salmond are offering zero answers on reality of an independent Scotland. Its vital we start hearing facts not attacks

    Ryan MacKintosh, Inverness

    emails: "Independence for Scotland will help unite Britain together through a social union and help break down the barriers of resentment that currently divide us!"


    Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie wants to know that no future Scottish government would be able to put Trident back in Scotland.


    Mr Salmond said it was "inconceivable" that a future Scottish government would return to putting nuclear weapons in Scotland but he would have to trust the democratic process to ensure that was so.


    @TimReidBBC: Consultation paper says if UK govt won't transer powers "without dictating unacceptable conditions" SG will carry on with referendum anyway


    Labour's James Kelly asks Mr Salmond to publish legal advice on the referendum being legally-binding. Mr Salmond says there is no such thing as a legally-binding referendum in the UK. But referendums have force because they are an "expression of democratic will". Mr Salmond says everything they have done complies with legal advice as they understand it.

    Graeme Ewing, Paisley

    writes: I am truly excited at the prospect of residing in a country I can call my own. I want to live in a land which lives or dies by its own decisions and this is Scotland's big opportunity.


    In response to Independent MSP Margo MacDonald, Mr Salmond says the Scottish people want to see positive messages, positively deployed.

    ballot question Could the ballot paper look like this?

    @BBCJamesCook: The ballot paper which could end the UK, as proposed by the SNP: #indyref


    The SNP's Bob Doris asks about increasing turnout for the referendum. Mr Salmond says he hopes the consultation will signal a great deal of interest. "People have to be motivated to vote to believe their vote will make a difference to the future," Mr Salmond says.


    Labour's Drew Smith asks about expenditure on the referendum. Mr Salmond hits out at the previous Labour government's record on spending money on special advisers.

    G from Alloa, Scotland,

    writes: Does no-one understand that if it's a Yes vote, as well as a share of the debt, Scotland would also be entitled to a share of the assets, including for example the military. There would be no UK politically post independence, there would be Scotland and England/Wales/NI. Similarly, with the nonsense around Scotland having to apply to the EU. So would England!


    That's the independence referendum debate over. MSPs now turn to the Scottish budget. Finance Secretary John Swinney is on his feet.


    Scotland independence question is biased. "Do you agree" implies other people think this and we're driven to agree with the group.

    Analysis Glenn Campbell Political correspondent, BBC Scotland

    The consultation says a "yes" vote would mean 2016 would see the election of what would become the parliament of an "independent Scotland".

    Ross Chmiel, Edinburgh,

    writes: "Would Scotland open embassies in every country? What would be the cost of that? If not, what are Scots abroad to do if in trouble?"

    Alex salmond at Holyrood Centre of media attention - Alex Salmond before he entered Holyrood to deliver his Scottish referendum statement

    #indyref Haven't made up mind yet on Independence, but wont take much more patronising nonsense from Cameron and Paxman to help me decide


    What Mr Salmond's statement said:

    • The question would be "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?"
    • The electoral commission would oversee the referendum
    • People who are resident in Scotland will be eligible to vote, on the same basis as the Scottish Parliament elections
    • 16 and 17 year olds should be allowed to vote
    • A second question on Devo Max has not been ruled out as a possibility.

    Commenting on the publication of the Scottish Government's referendum consultation document, Iain McMillan, Director of CBI Scotland, said: "We welcome this consultation, just as we did the UK Government consultation earlier this month. These are important issues to address and we will be responding to the questions posed, building on the established positions of CBI Scotland."


    If 16 and 17 year olds can vote for independence why can't they vote for everything then... #nosense


    The First Minister Alex Salmond will hold a live news conference from Edinburgh Castle at about 15:15 - stay with us!


    Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson told BBC Scotland she was pleased the Electoral Commission would oversee the referendum.

    Labour's Johann Lamont, the Lib Dem's Willie Rennie and the Tories Ruth Davidson Labour's Johann Lamont, the Lib Dem's Willie Rennie and the Tories Ruth Davidson react to the consultation launch

    Ms Davidson said she was glad that Mr Salmond had set out his preference for a single question on independence.


    "I am confident there will be an agreement on legalities," says Mr Rennie.

    Glenn Campbell Political correspondent, BBC Scotland

    The Independence Referendum consultation paper outlines plans for a formal 16 week campaign period before polling day.


    Why can't we have the choice of no longer being subjects of the queen and becoming a republic?? #indyref

    Analysis Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    If there's one issue that's causing Alex Salmond more difficulty than any other as he builds the case for independence, it's Scotland's currency. Which banknotes would Scots be using if they voted for independence? And linked to that, what implications would there be for fiscal and monetary policy? Read more.....


    The only Conservative MP in Scotland, David Mundell, said there had been "considerable progress" towards having a referendum which was "legal, fair and decisive". He said he had issues around the timing and wanted a referendum sooner to end uncertainty.


    Mr Mundell said a single question on independence was the SNP's preferred option and also was the preference of the Tories and Labour so he did not know why the second question was being raised as a possibility at this stage.


    @BBCAndrewBlack Im heading up to Edinburgh Castle to tweet from alex salmond's international press conference #indyref

    press wait at castle The media wait to hear from First Minister Alex Salmond, who is due to answer questions at about 15:15 at Edinburgh Castle

    Political commentator Prof John Curtice said there would be a battle of the consultations. Both the UK government and the Scottish government were holding separate consultations and it would be interesting to see who gets the most responses. he said politicians will be desperate to get a letter from you.


    @GlennBBC: Salmond: "Much of what Scotland will be like the day after independence will be similar to the day before".


    How can you take part in the Scottish government referendum consultation?

    • Deadline - Responses by Friday, 11 May, 2012
    • Electronic responses can be accessed by filling in a form on the government's consultation webpage
    • Email - You can also send responses to
    • Written submissionsshould be sent to - Referendum Consultation, Elections and Constitutional Development Division, Area 3D (south), Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ

    Prof John Curtice said there was a problem with the possibility of voting in the referendum being held on a Saturday. He called it the "Lewis and Harris Question". The people of the Western Isles would not want to count the votes on a Sunday. He said the SNP would not want to offend the considerable Sabbatarian element in that part of the nation.


    The first minister's statement to the international press at Edinburgh Castle is running late. Stay with us, we will bring it live on this page.

    Alex Salmond Alex Salmond, first minister, holding his consultation document on the Scottish independence referendum
    1531: Glenn Campbell Political correspondent, BBC Scotland

    Scottish Secretary Michael Moore was due to take part in the Big Debate on BBC One Scotland tonight but has had to pull out because he has chicken pox. In his place will be Lib Dem peer Lord Wallace, the former deputy first minister of Scotland.


    Independent MSP Margo MacDonald tells BBC Scotland there should only be one question on the referendum paper. She said she had worked for independence and did not want that opportunity watered down by a second question on Devo Max. She said the timing of the referendum in autumn 2014 was correct.


    @pcayuqueoAlg\u00fan d\u00eda las banderas de Escocia y Wallmapu flamear\u00e1n en la ONU. Y m\u00e1s importante aun, en la FIFA. One day the Scottish flag will fly above the United Nations, and more importantly above the FIFA offices.

    Mapuche, Temuco (Chile)


    Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens told BBC Scotland he supported giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the referendum. He said if they were old enough to pay taxes they were old enough to vote.


    Dr Nicola McEwen of Edinburgh University said there was a great deal of interest around the world in this story. There are 70 foreign journalists at Edinburgh Castle waiting for the media conference, now 30 minutes late.


    Prof John Curtice said there was great interest in Spain. He said the Basque and Catalan regions were watching the moves in Scotland closely. Belgium, as well, was interested in the prospect of a mature democracy breaking apart, Prof Curtice said.

    SNP's @PeterMurrell:

    I know what I'm voting in #Scotland's referendum. RT if you know too. #indyref


    Margo MacDonald said she trusted the Electoral Commission to oversee the referendum. She said she had been stitched up in referendums before and "believe me I won't let it happen again".

    waiting press BBC Scotland's Brian Taylor [left] waits, along with dozens of media, for Mr Salmond's news conference

    How can you take part in the UK government's referendum consultation?

    • Deadline: Responses need to be in by Friday, 9 March, 2012.
    • Address: By letter you can send your response to - Referendum Consultation, Scotland Office, 1 Melville Crescent, Edinburgh, EH3 7HW.
    • Email:
    • Outcome: The UK government says a summary of responses will be published on the Scotland Office website following completion of the consultation.

    @BBCJamesCook: Alex Salmond press conference begins with a "short video". #indyref


    Bruce Crawford of the SNP at Edinburgh Castle welcomes the foreign and domestic media to Mr Salmond's briefing. He introduces a short video on Scotland's constitutional journey.


    Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones has reacted to the latest developments in Scotland by saying it raises serious questions for the rest of the UK. Any change is status for Scotland is bound to have an effect elsewhere.

    He said: "There are serious questions for the rest of the UK and its important to sit down and work out a process where the rest of the UK can work together in a union that's right for the 21st century"


    Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomes everyone to Edinburgh Castle for the "next step of Scotland's constitutional journey".


    Ms Sturgeon said there was enormous international interest in Scotland. She wanted Scotland to re-take its place in the family of nations. She said Scotland's journey to this day had been reached in no small measure because of the leadership of Alex Salmond.


    Mr Salmond takes to the podium at Edinburgh Castle. He said the venue was one of the few places which was large enough to house the people interested.


    If you're unable to stay with us online, you can keep across the news conference by tuning in to Newsdrive on BBC Radio Scotland - 92-95 FM and 810 MW.


    Mr Salmond says the castle does remind people of Scottish nationhood which stretches back before the Act of Union in 1707.


    @BBCJamesCook: Salmond: The devolved Scottish Parliament was "a welcome step" but its limited powers aren't enough, particularly on the economy. #indyref


    Mr Salmond says the reconvened Scottish Parliamnet controls 80% of the expenditure in Scotland but only 15% of the revenue. But the limited powers of the parliament made it difficult to take the economy out of the "doldrums of Westminster economic management", Mr Salmond said. He also areas such as welfare benefits and sending Scots to war, other areas which the current parliament could not control.


    The SNP leader says he offers malice towards nobody. "We seek to play a responsible role in the international community of nations," he says.


    Mr Salmond tells foreign journalists that not a single person has lost their life in a century of the fight for Scottish independence. The fight has been carried by wholly democratic means, he says.


    I demand the option to vote "Aye, right" in the independence referendum. #indyref


    @BBCJamesCook: Salmond: We would emerge as the sixth most prosperous nation in the OECD. We offer malice towards nobody, friendship to all. #indyref


    Mr Salmond opens the floor to questions. Brian Taylor, the "doyenne" of the press corps, goes first.


    Responding to the Scottish government's referendum consultation, the STUC's Grahame Smith said: "STUC will consult its affiliated organisations on the substance of this, and the UK Government's consultation, before making a detailed response to both. Taken together these exercises provide the opportunity to resolve issues of process so that the real referendum debate can move forward. However, such progress will require flexibility from both Governments and a marked improvement in the overall political tone."


    BBC Scotland's Brian Taylor asks if the Electoral Commission would be able to scrutinise the question asked on the paper. Mr Salmond says there is no doubt that the proposed question meets their criteria. He would be astonished and surprised if there was any difficulty with the question.

    Bill Brown, Glenrothes

    writes: Why are people arguing about the question that will appear on the ballot paper? That will be decided once the consultation exercise is complete - that's why the Scottish Government is consulting the people of Scotland.


    Robbie Dinwoodie of The Herald asks if the Scottish government needs the section 30 order from Westminster to be able to ask the question. Mr Salmond says he sees no reason why there should be "insuperable" difficulties when dealing with Westminster.


    @niallogallagher: Dreach G\u00e0idhlig dhen cheist: A bheil thu ag aontachadh gum bu ch\u00f2ir Alba a bhith na d\u00f9thaich neo-eisimeileach #gaidhlig #sp4

    Alex Salmond at news conference Alex Salmond has been answering questions from the UK and international media at Edinburgh Castle

    Mr Salmond is asked if the Scottish government sees itself more in affinity with Scandinavia than the rest of the UK. The first minister replies that he sees the Nordic Council as a good model for the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK. He cites the British-Irish Council as a way of co-operating between governments.


    Alex Salmond says that his meeting with Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, who has chicken pox, has been postponed. But the first minister hopes the meeting will take place next week.


    @BBCAndrewBlack: FM says it's not impossible to ask two questions on a ballot paper, re more powers for Holyrood #indyref


    Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Margaret Curran said: "At present, the Electoral Commission has to rule on the wording of the question on the ballot paper because it is a point of principle that it shouldn't be for politicians alone to pick. Alex Salmond's proposal to strip the Electoral Commission of its legal responsibility to rule on the question will fuel suspicion and is simply not acceptable. It is completely wrong to agree to a neutral referee but then stop it doing its most important job."


    Mr Salmond is asked by the Reuters news agency about negotiations with England about a monetary union after independence. He said Scottish and UK economies did not share the same tensions and strains as the Euro area. Mr Salmond said it would be to the convenience of both Scotland and England.


    Alex Salmond says he's happy to arrange elocution lessons for the PM if he wants to quote Burns in the Commons again.

    Peter J. Mackie, Edinburgh

    emails: The more politicians in London try to interfere, the more likely I will be to vote for independence for Scotland.


    Angus Macleod of the Times says multi-option referendums end up in division. Mr Salmond said if there was a significant strand of opinion for a second question then it would be unfair not to be considered. He said it would not be right to exclude it just because it might be popular.


    A Spanish journalist asks Mr Salmond if he is worried about a veto of Scotland's application for EU membership. The first minister says independence would bring two equal successor states. he says Scotland would be in the EU in the same way that the rest of the UK would. Mr Salmond says he did not believe anyone would consider freezing out Scotland or the UK. The SNP leader also said that the reported concerns of the Spanish government were different from the views which had been expressed to him personally.


    Salmond to leave a smaller union to inevitably join a bigger one.Where will these arguments 4 independence be when the euro is on the cards?


    The questioning and debating will be central to Scottish politics for the next two-and-a-half years. To help you keep across all the arguments and key information bookmark our dedicated "Scotland's future" website.


    A journalist from Bilbao in the Basque region of Spain asks who will measure "wide support" for Devo Max? Mr Salmond says it is like an elephant, "you might have difficulty describing it but you would recognise it if it arived in your living room".


    @niallogallagher: C\u00f2mhradh eadar Ailig Salmond agus M\u00eccheal Moore ga chur dheth agus Mgr Moore tinn #sp4 #gaidhlig


    Mr Salmond says he will "recognise" a substantial voice from civic Scotland if it favours being asked a question on Devo Max. He also says that the UK government's consultation on the referendum talks of a "question or questions".


    A Danish journalist asks if the referendum will be the final result "no matter what". Mr Salmond says he would follow the wishes of the Scottish people. "I am confident, absolutely confident, that we are going to win this referendum," he says.


    Mr Salmond says there have been very few "positive" arguments from the opponents of independence. He says negative campaigning will not work.

    Edinburgh panda Two pandas, residing at Edinburgh zoo, were loaned to Scotland for 10 years.

    Alex Salmond's detailed talk of scaremongering included what would happen to the China pandas at Edinburgh zoo. Have a look at the BBC's Andrew Black's "Unresolved Questions" piece - and if you have your own questions you believe need to be answered, let us know by emailing


    "Do you agree Scotland shd be an independent country?". But Surely a fair question would be, "do you think Scotland should leave the UK?"


    Alan Cochrane of the Telegraph says there are two outstanding problems - timing and the question. He says the timing could easily be done quicker, so why does Mr Salmond not do that? That leaves the question as the only problem. Mr Salmond says he has set out a reasonable timetable for what needs to be done.

    Wilma James, Cumbernauld,

    writes: I do not understand why people are so worried about independence. To have own control of your own country and not worry what Westminister decides for us sounds so exciting to me.


    Mr Salmond is asked what his preferred way of dealing with the Devo Max question would be. He says his policy is independence and his question on that is clear. It is for other people to state the case for the Devo Max option and how it should be taken forward, he says.

    Peter Cheesewright, Bristol

    writes: I doubt that the Electoral Commission would find the question on the ballot paper acceptable. Asking people to agree with you has a built in bias.


    A Norwegian journalist asks how he will convince the people of Scotland that independence will be the best for them. Mr Salmond says he won the election last year by giving a "positive vision of the future" and that is the key to winning the referendum campaign.


    The Irish Times asks would he run the Devo Max option past his party if there appears to be a strong preference for it among the electorate. Mr Salmond said Devo Max was not the preference of SNP members but it would not be a surprise for them for this to be a possibility.

    Jeremy Paxma Jeremy Paxman is a "fine man" says Mr Salmond

    Lesley Riddoch of The Scotsman asks about Mr Salmond's interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. Mr Salmond says Paxman is a fine man and a "great recruiting sergeant" for support for independence. The first minister says he is more concerned about the cuts to staffing at BBC Scotland at such an important time.

    Niall Robertson, Coupar, Angus, Scotland

    emails: "The 'devo max' question in any independence referendum looks like a consolation prize for the SNP in the event it were to lose the yes vote. The SNP should go for goal. If you want independence, go for it whole heartedly."


    Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said after Mr Salmond's consultation statement: "There is no doubt that we need a single, straightforward question on whether we want to be a separate country or part of the United Kingdom. The SNP say they agree, and now that there is support for having only one question it is time we got on with holding a fair, legal and decisive referendum. To force Scotland to wait for 1,000 days is simply too long, the Scottish people deserve an answer sooner rather than later."


    I'm not being funny here but I genuinely can't see an economic/political reason for Scotland to split from UK, can anyone help me out?


    Mr Salmond says the comments of Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond may make him a better recruiting sergeant for independence than Jeremy Paxman. Mr Hammond reportedly said that Scotland would have to pay for the clean-up if Trident was removed from the naval base at Clyde.


    Mr Salmond brings the media conference to a close.


    Well, that's it for our live video and text coverage of Alex Salmond's referendum statement to the Scottish Parliament and his news conference which followed at Edinburgh Castle.

    Follow the debate Glenn Campbell Political correspondent, BBC Scotland

    Remember, you can join me at 22:35 for a live studio audience debate on the Scottish independence referendum. You can also watch the BBC One Scotland special online.


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