Scottish independence: Meeting set to seal referendum deal
- 10 October 2012
- From the section Scotland politics
The prime minister has said he will meet Scotland's first minister next week to agree the final deal over a referendum on Scottish independence.
Although some final details have yet to be ironed out, David Cameron told the Conservative Party conference he would meet Alex Salmond on Monday.
Mr Salmond stressed the final deal had not yet been fully agreed.
And he said speculation from the Conservative conference was "not helpful".
The BBC understands that the meeting between the two political leaders will be held in Edinburgh.
Although a few areas of disagreement remain, primarily on the issue of campaign finance, a package of measures has been agreed.
It is understood the final deal will see the referendum - which will be held before the end of 2014 - ask a single yes/no question on whether Scotland should become an independent country.
Measures will also be included to allow Holyrood to extend the vote to those aged over 16 in Scotland.
And Holyrood will be formally handed legal powers to hold the referendum under what is known as a Section 30 order.
Speaking at the conference in Birmingham, Mr Cameron said Britain's success at the London Olympics showed "something important".
He added: "Whether our athletes were Scottish, Welsh, English or from Northern Ireland, they draped themselves in one flag.
"There was, of course, one person who didn't like that. He's called Alex Salmond. I'm going to go and see him on Monday to sort out that referendum on independence by the end of 2014.
"There are many things I want this coalition government to do but what could be more important than saving our United Kingdom?"
Mr Salmond said he was "hopeful" that he and Mr Cameron would be able to sign an agreement next week - but stressed the deal was not yet completely done.
He said: "I don't think people should announce an agreement has been made until it is made. That is just a foolish thing to do. I think people often get a bit over enthusiastic in the evenings of their party conferences, perhaps.
"There are still issues. You have to bottom out an agreement. There's no point in leaving loose ends which come back to haunt you later."
Mr Salmond said the referendum had to be "built and made in Scotland for the Scottish people to determine our own future".
He added: "Hopefully we will have something next week that the prime minister and I can put our names too, but the deal ain't done yet."
It comes after "substantial progress" was made during a telephone call between Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Secretary Michael Moore on Monday.
The pair had held a series of face-to-face meetings in recent weeks as they attempted to reach a compromise.
A joint statement issued by the Scottish government and the Scotland Office after Mr Moore and Ms Sturgeon's latest conversation said: "Further substantial progress towards agreement was reached this afternoon between the Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Secretary of State Michael Moore.
"Officials have now been tasked with doing some further work on the final detail of the agreement.
"We are however on track for the full agreement, including the terms of a Section 30 order, to be presented to the First Minister and the Prime Minister over the next few days."
The BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson, said the deal - if it is finalised - would be presented as "a compromise involving concessions by both sides".
The SNP is understood to have accepted a single question referendum, as opposed to two questions including one on greater powers for the Scottish Parliament, while the UK government has abandoned its opposition to giving 16 and 17-year-olds a vote.