Scottish independence: Cameron and Salmond strike referendum deal

Prime Minister David Cameron Prime Minister David Cameron meets First Minister Alex Salmond at St Andrew's House in Edinburgh
David Cameron and Alex Salmond The political leaders shake hands ahead of signing the referendum agreement
David Cameron, Michael Moore, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon A photocall takes place with David Cameron, Michael Moore, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon
Alex Salmond and David Cameron The agreement is signed by the leaders of the Scottish and UK governments
Referendum deal signatures Negotiators Michael Moore and Nicola Sturgeon also place their signatures on the document
Alex Salmond In a news conference following the agreement, Alex Salmond says it has been a historic day for Scotland

A deal setting out terms for a Scottish independence referendum has been signed by Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond.

The agreement, struck in Edinburgh, has paved the way for a vote in autumn 2014, with a single Yes/No question on Scotland leaving the UK.

It will also allow 16 and 17-year-olds to take part in the ballot.

The SNP secured a mandate to hold the referendum after its landslide Scottish election win last year.

The UK government, which has responsibility over constitutional issues, will grant limited powers to the Scottish Parliament to hold a legal referendum, under a mechanism called Section 30.

David Cameron says the agreement includes "one simple, straightforward question"

The deal will also commit both governments to working together constructively in the best interests of the people of Scotland, whatever the outcome of the referendum.

Mr Salmond said the agreement would mean a referendum "made in Scotland", while the prime minister said keeping the United Kingdom together was his number one priority.

The deal will provide for:

  • A statutory order to be legislated at Westminster, granting Holyrood powers to hold a single-question independence referendum by the end of 2014 and covering other issues like campaign broadcasts.
  • A "memorandum of agreement" to be signed by political leaders confirming the details of the referendum will be settled at Holyrood.
  • A significant role for the Electoral Commission watchdog in advising on the wording of the question, the running of the referendum and areas including campaign finance.

A possible second question on greater powers has been dropped.

Speaking after the deal was signed at the headquarters of the Scottish government, St Andrew's House, the prime minister told BBC News: "This is the right decision for Scotland.

Real arguments

But it's also right for the United Kingdom that there is going to be one, simple, straightforward question about whether Scotland wants to stay in the United Kingdom or separate itself from the United Kingdom, and that referendum has to be held before the end of 2014.

The editors - Analysis

Nick Robinson, Brian Taylor and Douglas Fraser
  • Nick Robinson, BBC political editor - "They shake hands. They smile for the cameras. They hail an agreement which allows the people of Scotland to determine their own future. However, both men will know that there can only be one winner......" Read more
  • Brian Taylor, BBC Scotland political editor - "As he briefed the media about today's agreement, Alex Salmond confided that he had been told by his advisers: do not look triumphalist. Plainly, they know their man....." Read more
  • Douglas Fraser, BBC Scotland business editor - "The price of a third-generation iPad. That seems to be enough to swing the independence referendum. If independence made them £500 better off, 65% of Scots told one poll they'd vote for it. But if it made them as much worse off, only 21%......" Read more

"I always wanted to show respect to the people of Scotland - they voted for a party that wanted to have a referendum, I've made that referendum possible and made sure that it is decisive, it is legal and it is fair."

Mr Cameron added: "Now we've dealt with the process, we should get on with the real arguments, and I passionately believe Scotland will be better off in the United Kingdom but also, crucially, the United Kingdom will be better off with Scotland."

Mr Salmond said the deal, which he described as the "Edinburgh Agreement", paved the way for the most important political decision Scotland had made in several hundred years.

He added: "It is in that sense a historic day for Scotland and I think a major step forward in Scotland's home rule journey.

"The Edinburgh Agreement means that we will have a referendum in two years' time which will be built and made in the Scottish Parliament on behalf of the Scottish people. I think that is a substantial and important step forward."

Mr Salmond said the respective campaigns could now move on from discussion over process and "get on with the substantive arguments".

He went on: "Do I believe that independence will win this campaign? Yes I do. And I believe we will win it by setting out a positive vision for a better future for our country, both economically and, crucially, also socially.

"It is that vision of a prosperous and compassionate society, a confident society moving forward in Scotland, which will carry the day."

When asked whether he had an exact date in mind for the referendum, and whether he would share it, Mr Salmond replied: "Yes, and no".

First Minister Alex Salmond says the agreement on a referendum on Scottish independence is 'a historic day for Scotland'

He said the Scottish government had still to publish the results of its consultation on the referendum, which would happen in the "near future".

The deal was negotiated between Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, a Liberal Democrat MP, and Scotland's deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said she was pleased a deal had been reached, adding: "Alex Salmond has the right to ask the question and now people have right to answer it.

"But we cannot allow this debate to distract from some of the real problems being faced by families in Scotland, things the SNP could act on now."

"Alex Salmond offers people only one solution to Scotland's problems - a referendum on independence - but his timetable makes us wait another two years to have our say."

What happens now?

October 2012

  • Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond sign the referendum agreement
  • A Section 30 order transferring the rights to hold a referendum to Holyrood
  • The findings of the Scottish government's Your Scotland, Your Referendum consultation will be published

Autumn/winter 2012

  • Electoral Commission begins the practical preparations, including testing the fairness and clarity of the question

February 2013

  • The Section 30 Order will be agreed by the Privy Council

Spring 2013

  • The Referendum Bill comes before Holyrood

October 2013

  • MSPs take part in the crucial Stage 3 vote at the Scottish Parliament

November 2013

  • Royal Assent is given to the bill
  • The Scottish government will publish a White Paper - what it calls its "prospectus for independence". Other parties will also put forward their vision for the future of Scotland

Summer 2014

  • The pro-independence and anti-independence campaigns intensify

Autumn 2014

  • The Scottish independence referendum takes place

(Source:BBC Scotland's Sunday Politics Scotland)


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  • rate this

    Comment number 777.

    So many back stabbing cowardly "Scottish" people on these boards, so convicned that out of the 195 other independent countries in the world that Scotland just couldn't do it alone. They are so convinced of the need to be ruled from London that they don't have the dignity to stand on their own two feet. Disgusting, reprehensible characters who will NOT hold us back any longer. VOTE. YES.

  • rate this

    Comment number 776.

    Editors Pick:
    14 Minutes ago
    gutted that as a born and bred Scot who lives down South, I will have no say in the future of my country, it would be a definite yes from me

    This sums things up perfectly. Scot living in Brighton upset she can't vote yes!
    Brilliant - you couldn't make it up - she wants and independant country but decides to live in Brighton!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 775.

    It goes to show just how poor the election system in the UK is. The SNP got into power on a landslide because of the fall of Labour and the collapse of the LibDem as alternative vote. Hence the SNP think they have a mandate for independence in Scotland, yet the majority of Scots don't want it. What an absurd situation we find ourselves in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 774.

    This is quite unbelievable - the SNP has clearly mugged the Tories big style here. Getting the 16-17 year old vote will be what tips the decision in favour of independence, and losing the "devo max" question won't matter, it'll just make the decision easier.

    If the English have any sense they'd get rid of the Tories and beg Salmond to fix their country after it goes bankrupt in 2 years time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 773.

    What ever the outcome, surely ALL nations involved in the splitting up of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland should have the right to vote in a referendum. This vote is nothing like any country in the EEC.

    All 4 of our great nation are proud of who they are, that will not change.

    Splitting up = years of 'divvying up'. I bet it will look like a messy divorce.

  • rate this

    Comment number 772.

    If you delete a file on your PC it says "Are you sure?"

    Deleting the UK in its current form is a rather bigger decision!

    So, if the vote is to break the union, there should be an "Are You Sure?" referendum say 5 years after.

    (Considering how long it took to get even today's agreement, it'd take at least that long to sort out how to actually make the separation, so it wouldn't be any slower).

  • rate this

    Comment number 771.

    I feel it would be a bad move if Scotland left the Union - both for Scotland AND the Union, but *if* TRUE independence is what the majority of Scots want, then I fully support them.

    BUT: Am I alone in a (cynical?) view that what Salmond REALLY wants is a form of devo-max where Holyrood can dip into the UK tax pot, but dictate how such "Scottish revenue" is spent? Or he just wants his 15 minutes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 770.


    Thank you, proper questions that NEED answering before you Scots make any kind of decision towards independence. Vote yes only with reliable information that leads to greater benefit of your economy etc. A lot of the posts on here are just nation-bashing I hate Scots/English prideful bile from both sides. Good to see people will be voting with common sense and not blind pride.

  • rate this

    Comment number 769.

    To be honest I don't blame the Scots for wanting independence, I hate England with a passion. I have already declared myself independent. I am a one man nation. I never wanted it this way, but English society is the pits and so I feel compelled to declare my independence. I no longer recognise the sovereign or government or law of the land as having any rightful authority over my nation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 768.

    654. Parallel World
    134. WeeJohn
    ..... if Scotland is such a leech, why are the Tories determined to keep Scotland in the Union?

    Because Cameron knows you'll vote for the precise opposite of what he says he wants you to do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 767.

    Scottish would be in 3rd place on World Wealth rankings (had it been in control of its own resources). Scotland exports more per capita than the rest of the UK. Scotland has 18 times its requirements in North Sea gas. No doubt as the time draws nearer to the referendum on Scottish Independence, politicians will do their best to distort the figures, but the truth is something that never varies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 766.

    Will that well known Scottish patriot and avid supporter of independance, Sean Connery, be allowed to vote. Does his ancestoral home on the banks of "Loch " Lausanne count as a Scottish protectorate?

  • rate this

    Comment number 765.

    Now that the legal nonsense is over can we now get down to the nuts and bolts of the debate, and no scare mongering would be ideal and no fantasising , There are good points to be made for either arguement , No Nukes or nuclear power , greater say for Scolands interests which might not be rUKs , a say on CFP and other euro deals , no more WL question or Barnett ,retained NHS, no more war mongering

  • rate this

    Comment number 764.

    Think the Scots get a good deal like free uni places for their own and anyone else. How come they charge the English to go to a Scots University? Think that will have to change if Scots decide to stay with English as UK. Auserity is coming soon to Scotland too. No more free hand outs, if English pay then you Scots have pay too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 763.

    .... I agree except England really does get the parliament it voted for. If you want to be independent then there is nothing stopping the English to start campaigning for this.

    Unfortunately any English campaigning is immediately shouted down as right wing racist. Not Nationalist pride as it is north of the border

  • rate this

    Comment number 762.

    It was a Scottish King that unified United Kingdom. James the 4th in 1603.

  • rate this

    Comment number 761.

    Here is an interesting point - The SNP is very pro EU membership, the Tories are very anti-EU membership.

    So, if you are living in Scotland, you may vote depending how you view Europe.

    If you are pro independence but anti EU, (or visa versa) you may have a problem!

  • rate this

    Comment number 760.

    "707.Martin Connolly
    every post mocking people for making "ideological" choices rather than financial ones, or belittling Scotland's ability to actually rule herself makes me that bit more pro independence."

    Good. It makes me that bit more pro playing the nationalist card to scots. Not that I care, nationalism is a winner on getting most Scots to bite and vote YES. Method to our madness ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 759.

    "I am Welsh, I say to the Scottish, do it. Maybe it will give a go ahead for a referendum in Wales and Northern Ireland in the future"

    or it could leave you as the whipping boy for the (pardon the phrase) little englander to blame for all their woes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 758.

    So, what makes the Scots so different to the rest of the UK? Do they speak a different language, eat different food, watch different TV programmes, play different sports, have a remotely different culture?!
    In fact is there a single thing that can justify why this is even being talked about?!
    Maybe Yorkshire, London or East Anglia should strive for 'independence' too!!


Page 38 of 76


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