Scottish independence: Meeting set to seal referendum deal


First Minister Alex Salmond says an agreement still has to be finalised

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.

So where are we anent the discussions on the independence referendum?

Progress, progress - but the deal is not yet entirely done.

And there remains at least one significant item of potential disagreement.

That item is campaign funding - or, more precisely, the legal limits to be imposed upon those seeking to finance efforts to win your support.

To be clear, this does not cover money spent just now by the campaign teams. Within voluntary rules, they can pretty much spend what they like - if they can raise it and justify the cost.

This covers the formal campaign period in the run up to the final vote in October 2014. It is expected that period will be longer than for a general election, perhaps 12 to 16 weeks.

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.

David Cameron and Alex Salmond Mr Cameron and Mr Salmond are expected to meet next week in Edinburgh

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."

Telephone call

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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    No wonder the politicians want children to vote - they are more easily manipulated by propaganda & emotional rhetoric.

    Socrates said (in Plato's "Gorgias") that political rhetoric is like candy - it appeals to childish tastebuds but has no substance. What a great metaphor for children at the mercy of political hustlers.

    I want Scotland to go, to free my beloved homeland of England!

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Cameron and the Britnats have insisted that no question about Devo-Max appears on the ballot, claiming this requires the entire UK to be involved. He is now proposing that there be a referendum on the EU after the next election. On Devo-Max for the UK. Hypocracy? You bet!! Huckster politics from the usual suspects.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Justin150 The SNP cannot allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in "national" elections because that franchise is a reserved matter, i.e. controlled by Westminster. SNP policy has been to allow an age 16 franchise in all elections for many years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    @ 14 Ad

    Yes,thats my prediction too. Many young scots i talk to take advantage of trips to London and such and do travel a lot more than their elders,and are less interested in independence. Thats my observation. There are arguments for both but i have met more scots who are more content the way we are now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    I suppose the West Coast Main Line franchise should take into account an independent Scotland. We do not finance railway infrastructure in Belgium so why in Scotland. There are many things to get to grips with - it's going to happen, so start now!

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    How is it that Downing Street is in such a hurry to have a referendum in Scotland but any consultation on Britain's relationship with Europe has to wait until after the next election?

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.


    You don't need to put on hold any Westminster financed investment in Scotland. Why? because there is none.

    You have a interesting method with dealing with Scottish independence. You propose to take all of their money and refuse to give them some of it back. I guess that will make the people see the glory in this magnificent union right?

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    And how many MPs have the Tories have in Scotland ??
    I had to laugh this morning Cameron was having a photoshoot sitting reading something underlining, looking all concerned, sleeves rolled up
    he cant even act well!
    in the words of Bob Dylan Propaganda all is Phony

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    If the SNP want 16 yr olds to vote in a referendum then they should also be allowed to vote in national elections. If the SNP are not prepared to agree to this then they do not deserve any votes.

    Why does it still need 15 months to organise the referendum? General elections can be organised in less than 6 months. Could it because SNP want the referendum on 700 anniversary of Bannockburn?

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Vote YES please.

    England, Wales and NI are better without you.

    (And the numbers don't add up, which will make it amusing. I guess this is my real reason, if I am honest...always fun when someone who talks utter twaddle about important stuff then has to face up to it)

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    And still no HYS on the Tory conference.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Thought it was too good to be true. Not a change of heart by BBC Scotland but a UK wide thread which will be swamped by the rest of the UK who don't even have a vote in the referendum. Would have preferred it to be BBC Scotland as the majority of comments would be from those eligible to vote and so could have indicated the Scottish view. Ah well.

    Vote YES in 2014.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    In response to Comment No.6 (Worlswear1):
    "Children (by legal definition) should not be given a vote in what happens to Scotland.". You'll not let then vote but at that age you're happy to ask them to pay taxes and send them to war? Get real. These youngesters should be entitled to vote in this and every other election. Bill (Edinburgh and 40-something)

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    start planning for Scottish independence right now. Put on hold any planned Westminster financed investment in Scotland. Give the English a vote on any contentious particularities - such as what should happen with the currency etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    If we're happy to assign criminal responsibility from the age of 10 we can't exactly moan about allowing 16 year-olds to vote in a referendum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Mr Salmond is keen to get 16 year olds to vote in the referendum purely and simply because he knows they are more likely to vote for independence.

    If he was genuine about wanting to include them in society and democracy more then he would be trying to change the law to allow them to vote in future Scottish elections.

    The man is as duplicitous as they come.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.


    I am also Scottish, and I am fearful. I also not at all happy with the UK Government permitting folk like ruth davidson to vote. She clearly isn't mature enough to have a proper debate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    “Cameron said Britain's success at the London Olympics showed 'something important'. Whether our athletes were Scottish, Welsh, English... they draped themselves in one flag.”

    Yes. It showed that if Scottish athletes did not agree to 'drape themselves' in the flag, they would not be allowed to compete in the Olympics. How exactly is this an argument against self-determination?


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