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 63.

    I do wish they would hurry up and ask the question!

    While I feel that Scotland ought to stay for the benefit of the rest of the UK and herself, I can't help but be curious as to exactly what impact this would have on the future of all residents and associated bodies/companies of the UK.

    I think many here underestimate the scale of impact this decision will have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

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

    Actually most of those I come across are more likely than adults to study the issues objectively rather than go on existing prejudice

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    A five second glance at the sneering Tory audience, and their ongoing appalling political ideologies - utterly alien to Scotland - tells me everything I need to know about the referendum debate.

    Westminster needs Scotland, desperately it seems. The reverse is glaringly not true. I'm voting YES, for a better, neighbourly Union - but not a political one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Why is there to be a Scotland only referendum on anything? I really don't get this. Legally and consitutionally we are one country and here is a decision about massive and irrevocable constitutional change. So why is no-one assuming that there must be a vote by all the people in the UK? Does no-one believe in democracy anymore?

  • Comment number 59.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Children (by legal defin) should not be given a vote in what happens. Scotland.

    There are many discrepancies in legally permitted ages, you can join the army (but not fight) at 16, work full-time, age of consent & get married at 16 but not buy alcohol & cigarettes, school leaving age soon to rise to 18, drive at 17 - theres a reasonable argument for voting in all elections at 16/17

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    @49 audiojunkie

    what an incredible selfish position you hold. Don't you see the parallels between Scotland and the UK with the UK and the EU. You want Scotland to stay in the UK so london stays powerful and independent of th EU, while trying to domineer and supress Scotlands voice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Unfortunately, it appears that the bigots are already on this thread.

    Before anyone can decide how to vote, both sides need to set out their arguments - including funding plans to allow us to make an informed vote.

    Although the comments of idiots such as essexash at #31 may help some make up their mind.
    Are those of us who served in the British military parasites as well?

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Please vote Yes - I am pleased for anybody who manages to get out of ConDem land. It is a bleak place unless you are rich. I enjoy seeing Cameron grovel to the Scots when we all know that he doesn't care about anybody north of Watford.
    Good Luck Scotland - Build a better society!

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    #29: "You'll not let (16 year olds) vote but at that age you're happy to ask them to pay taxes"

    Fine - they can vote if, and only if, they are net tax contributors. Indeed, this should the requirement for all voting, irrespective of age.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    There is far to many questions not answered, NHS, Army, Police, Imports/Export and Currency to name a few. He has not given an answer on any of these, Scotland will go down the plug the minute we go independent. Britain makes Scotland strong and Scotland makes Britain strong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.


    I don't have a 'method'. I think the whole idea is perfectly potty. But I do think it is going to happen and as such it makes sense to consider some of the issues which will arise.

    If there is no investment in Scotland, fair enough, one less thing to think about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Once the process has been agreed we can get on with the much more important business of providing sufficient information to people to make this massive choice on the future of Scotland. It is critical it does not get hijacked by media myths or politician half-truths. And folks, let's try and avoid the anti Scotland or anti England rubbish that so often pervades these blogs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    The referendum can only damage the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK, particularly if it is a NO vote. I can hear it now, every time that anything to do with Scotland comes up "40% of you do not want anything to do with us anyway so why should we listen to you?"

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    I really cannot see the point of a referendum specially now whats going on with the EU. As a Englishman I would like Scotland to stay in the UK if they choose not to its wrong for them to keep the pound as we seen what mass the Euro made. Scots also need to consider the future of the EU cause way things are going they would be taking powers from London for Scotland then giving them to Brussels.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    @ 6. Worldweary1

    By legal definition (your words), 16 year olds are adults under Scots law. In Great Britain it is only under English and Welsh law that those under 18 are children. You are posting on a HYS about a Scottish legal/political issue (constitution) using laws from another legal system (E + W).

    If anything, votes at 16 is natural for a legal system that treats 16 year olds as adults.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    There's only one Alex Salmond!
    There's only one Alex Salmond!
    Out of the door?
    You're gonna be poor!
    Walking in a Salmond wonderland.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    If Cameron expects a fait acompli next week, he will be sadly mistaken and made to look a fool.

    Nationalists have conceded a second question on the ballot paper, but that’s where the line is drawn.

    This meeting must be the last intervention from out with Scotland’s borders matters affecting OUR future!

    C McK

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Great. And hopefully a date can be set for the "Should we keep Scotland in the UK"

    Apparently its going to be set for the same day as the rest of the EU vote on whether England should be allowed to leave the EU

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Come on BBC
    I want a HYS on Flashmans's speech. I want to say what a hypocrite and sleeeeeeze ball he is.


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