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 83.

    You i love the fact that Pro SNP nutjobs have overtaken this thread and are marking down any comments which are doubtful about them not turning themselves into Norway. No one is saying Westminster is perfect,but the SNP is linked to anglophobic notions and there are anti England feelings in Scotland,DO NOT EVEN TRY TO DENY THAT SOME SCOTS ONLY SNP BECAUSE OF THESE THINGS!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Scotland gets 9.3% of UK spending, but generates 9.6% of UK taxes. We generate over £1,000 more tax per person than the average across the UK. Over each of the last 6 years Scotland’s finances have been stronger than the UK. And over the past 30 years, we have had a relative surplus of £19 billion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    I read recently that there is a possibility that Scotland will have to stop some of the "free" public services as the costs are higher than they actually thought.

    Wonder if this will sway the masses to remain part of the UK in case they can no longer afford these services without help from Westminster?

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Unionists have managed to convince themselves that Scotland cannot be a state. This ideology has, and been allowed to, develop over centuries and in essence that is its strength. I think we are seeing a realisation of this from them at present and they are struggling very badly to find coherent, rational arguments why Scotland should not be a fully self-governing country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    audiojunkie - Do you follow Scottish politics at all? The LibDems have been wiped out in Scotland. Their poll ratings varies between 3% and 7% and they have only 5 MSPs left - all as a consequence of their duplicity over the coalition. If you are going to comment on Scottish matters, at least have the decency to inform yourself first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    For god's sake GO.Sick of hearing about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    60 Simon

    So by your reckoning, everyone in the EU should get a vote on whether the UK is allowed to leave if they vote to do so?

    And, for the record, Scotland and England are two separate countries in the same state.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    MY HEAD IS SPINNING. Being allowed to comment twice in one day on BBC Scotland?????

    What is going on at Pacific Quay, has the Head of BBC Scotland Bias gone to sleep on the job?

    This will never do you know. Scots need to be told what to think, not the other way round.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    72 Audiojunkie They have nothing to offer except criticism of either the Tories, or Labour. Blaming others is how they operate, like the commissars of the old Soviet Union, repeat a lie often enough and somebody will believe it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    @60. Simon Harries

    Scotland is a nation part of a union formed by Treaty not unlike the EU
    Should we choose to rescind the Acts of Union 1707 that is our choice in the same way as the Westminster Parliament could repeal the Union with Scotland Act 1706 and get rid of the moaning spongers that so many posting here think we are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    I will not give up my British passport for anyone!

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    I wish people would stop using the excuse of the condem government for people to vote for independence. The lib dems always do pretty well in Scotland so Scots played there part in the outcome of the general election. This union has 305 years of history and it wasn't always a condem government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I don't live in Scotland, but notice that HYS debates are not open on BBC Scotland. Welsh insular blogs are open for a few hours and Northern Ireland is just random.

    If the BBC is charging us all for a TV licence - then surely all their journalists should open their minds and their blogs for comments in Scotland, Wales, N Ireland as well as England for more than a day.

  • Comment number 70.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    @ 61 Sian Williams

    But i dont see how anyone in Scotland can expect the normal English people to want to be associated with Scotland if it does become independent. Forget Westminster,its not just them your going to slap in the face is it??? and please,dont even TRY to deny that there is no Anglophobic notions within the SNP,because its glaringly obvious there IS....

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Expect a long campaign of Unionist chicanery, deceit and smears.

    Ultimately, however, we have nothing to lose but our chains....and the prospect of ever having a festering, posh-boy Tory government ever again.

    YES 2014.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    There is far to many questions not answered, NHS, Army, Police, Imports/Export and Currency to name a few.

    You get a pretty sensible set of answers to these questions if you look at how Ireland seceded, some solutions may be different this time but all these issues can be be settled
    Scottish NHS is already completely seperate from English NHS, as are Scottish police

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    So his Munificence Salmo Al Clootie the Bountiful doesn't trust wee Sturgeon to arrange a deal, so now he claims no deal has been made.No doubt he's hoping if he delays long enough he'll get a Micawber moment and "something will turn up ". Maybe he's going to beg Cameron to get him a wee number as a commissioner in his beloved EU after he loses the referendum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    53 Dunkace
    NHS - Scotland PUBLIC - rUK - Privatised
    Army - Separate defence force. No nukes!
    Police - Scotland, increasing nos. - rUK - decreasing nos. and privatisation
    Inports/Exports - we're doing as well if not better than rUK
    Currency - £ short term until we decide otherwise.

    We'll manage fine.

    Now, what are the tax rates, pensions, health service etc. going to be like in rUK in two years?

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Good luck to the Scots-lets hope they can get independence! Scotland has always had a good relationship throughout History with mainland Europe, so I hope they can prove themselves and prosper as part of the EU.Then we shall see if English can be as self sufficient as they make out!


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