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 143.

    "76. minuend

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

    Maybe he's been made redundant.. after all wouldn't want to waste any money on those Scots, they only pay 226 million and BBC Scotland costs a staggering 87 million... that means they are only paying 139 million towards producing the Archers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Another missconception, one that repeated a lot. Hate to say this but the United Kingdom is not a Country its a state, its a union of two indetifiable countries, being Scotland and England. The vote in 2014 is to end this union and end the United Kngdom. We will all still be part of Britain as Britain is an Island

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    I want to vote against the status quo and for many more powers for Scotland but I don't think that full independence is the best route. What do I do? Spoil the paper or stay home?

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Scotland doesn't want independence, us Scots are proud of our Union with the other countries of the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    @115. ken1760

    Why as a citizen of the United Kingdon am I not being asked to vote on the break up of my country?

    YOUR country ?

    Last time I looked, the United Kingdom is not a country. It is a group of countries.

    And I don't live in Scotland either, I live in England - but I am Scottish, not British. There is no such nationality.

  • Comment number 138.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    83.Sam M
    You are accusing the SNP followers of being anglophobic, this is not
    true, we just want to decide and run our own affairs the way we think best.
    However, I have lived abroad in a few different countries and the
    'English government' is hated universally because of their foreign policy,
    they don't hate the English just the 'English establishment'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Whether you like Alex Salmond or not, the Scottish people voted for the SNP on the basis of what they have achieved over the last few years. This was helped by negative campaigning from Labour and the number of scandals by Labour leaders e.g. Wendy Alexander's donations, Jack McConnell's affair, Gordon Brown 'agreeing' with the Iraq war. Negative campaigning does not win elections in Scotland.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    @128 coram-populo-2010

    Agreed. Time for everyone to take a deep breath and calm down.

    No matter what, there is little point in throwing mud at each other. The debate will be conducted over the next two years, then the people of Scotland will make an informed choice.

    Hint...the debate will not be won by telling us we are too small, too poor and too ignorant to make a success of Independence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    There's 2 HYS on Scottish independence because the BBC got the first one wrong.

    There is NO deal done.

    That's what happens when the BBC don't consult with the Scottish Government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    I want independence for Cornwall and Yorkshire, why stop at Scotland, any of the islands around the coast, what about the isle of man there is house fit for a king going for 15 mill if you have any loose change
    This is all ego and hot air, Scotland will still rely on England for money and I hope they can afford to pay back all the money they have had over the years
    Well Done wasting everyones time

  • Comment number 132.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Ken 1760
    Because under international law it is for the Scot,s and the Scot,s alone to decide if they want independence . That is why the S.N.P only wanted the one question . Devo Max or whatever you want to call it would have to be voted on by all parts of the u.k . The treaty of union is between England and Scotland and England could vote to dissolve the treaty without the Scot,s having a vote

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    Well Calum....
    Because what happens to Scotland is the "Will" of the Scottish People.

    Scottish People = ALL people living in Soctland!

    No one else!

    So all the Scottish people such as myself have no say about what happens to a country within which I was born and all those of any other nation who live is Scotland are by definition Scottish;weird logic as to the definition of Scottish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    Good Idea Scotland.
    All new member states to the EU as Scotland would be must adopt the euro

    There's sill a legal argument to be had on whether Scotland would count as a new member but assuming it does, The obligation for new members to join the EZ looks increasingly shaky, 5 EU countries have no target date for joining & its not really in EZ interests to have more join soon

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    It doesn't matter what any of us say who don't have a vote in Scotland on a referendum for independence.

    The Scottish electorate will vote for independence, or not, in 2014. What is the purpose of us squabbling with each other?

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Clearly you dont actually understand the present position, in that Scotland is already responsible for its own NHS and Policing, as well as Education and Transport. The only bit thats missing is Foreign affairs, Welfare and Defence. Scotland already contributes out of its block grant an amount to Defence and Foreign affairs

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    119.hew-and-cry The Bitter Together campaign will tell the truth? :ike bombing our airports, 'repatriating' the pandas, Scotland as subsidy junkie, we will need to rejoin the EU, and forced into the Euro, and be left defenceless, and Salmond is comparable to numerous dictators, and - oh I give up. I'm sure you catch my drift.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    well it seems that we in the rest of the UK will not have a say in the maintenance of the Union. So be it. If the Scots are stupid enough to vote for independence, we in the rest of the UK will have the satisfaction of voting No when they crawl back a broken and bankrupt people begging to rejoin.

    Be careful what you wish for...

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    The 3rd question would have been pointless anyway. Voting for devo max means you're voting no to independence and why vote for devo max if you believe it's a stepping stone to independence? Just vote yes.
    England will survive fine. Claiming Scotland is indispensable is foolishness. The UK holds onto N. Ireland not because it's a cash cow but because there is a significant Unionist population.


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