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)


More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites



This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 857.

    It would be such a shame for Scotland to leave the United Kingdom. Regardless of what some may think of us, I feel we're a truly great nation. Scotland contributes a lot to the diversity of our culture and I've never met a Scot I disliked. The Scots are a great people and the English, Welsh and Irish are a great people. Let's hope we stay united.

  • rate this

    Comment number 856.

    @ 847 hew-and-cry

    oh the irony of that post!

  • rate this

    Comment number 855.

    Maybe I don't see the bigger picture but when two students who live a few miles apart go to university and one has to pay £9000 and the other nothing it begs the question who is getting a bad deal? Logically the student who has to pay should be the one complaining about freedom and fairness? But then I am only English so what does my view matter?

  • rate this

    Comment number 854.

    822: 16 and 17 year olds are mature enough to get married, have children, join the army and be killed in illegal wars. Why *shouldn't* they be able to help decide the future of their country?

  • rate this

    Comment number 853.

    I don't mind if Scotland or Wales gain their independence. As long as they DON'T RECEIVE A SINGLE PENNY FROM THE ENGLISH TAX PAYER. Independence means independence and that includes being fully financially independent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 852.

    And that rids the UK electoral role, of all the LABOUR voters in Scotland. The Tory's never won any seats up there in any way, yet Labour had a reasonable turnout.

    Is this jerrymandering on a national scale ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 851.

    In the event that an independent Scotland was allowed to be in the EU, which of course the UK could veto.

    We could set up camps at Carlisle and Berwick Upon Tweed to fast track East European migrants into the new utopia.

  • Comment number 850.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 849.

    The oil is a side show and a non argument. Do the SNP believe that they are capable of gaining a better agreement with the oil companies than the UK as a whole did? Oil revenue is 1.9 bn a year - peanuts, it's right down at the bottom of the list of tax revenue. Scotland will need more than this to survive on their own.

  • rate this

    Comment number 848.


    Not sure i go with this idea, the line from kings lynn to bristol will cut my house in half, making my eldist son scottish, my twins English, but more worryingly the bathroom would be in England and it a pain in the neck to get my eldest to take a shower at the best of times, without the necessity for passport controls!

  • Comment number 847.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 846.

    Even now religion and nationalism still have the power to make people lose their minds. Sad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 845.

    Norway and Sweden are good models for Scotland. Scotland is not doing this to join the EU. London can trade independant from EU and Scotland. London has bigger fish to fry with Hong Kong and Mumbai. No wonder NU Labour (EU Labour want 16 years old to vote, cause they will never have power again in England. Today is a great day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 844.

    it may be that the referendum will not be held until Oct 2014 - but there is no reason why England cannot start planning for this right now. Just get on with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 843.

    No matter what nationality you are, if you live / work in Scotland and are a registered voter in this country, you will all have the opportunity to place your vote, ex-pats don't count plain and simple. Depending on what report you believe there might still be oil & gas, we might still have a decent tourist destination, and we might still own whisky rights? Place you bets!

  • rate this

    Comment number 842.

    The starting gun has been fired and now we will have two years of heated debate by everyone who feels they have a vested interest in the result. Prepare for lies, untruths and scaremongering as they attempt to convince the Scottish people how they should vote.

    In the end the answer will be no, Scotland will get more devolved powers and we will have wasted time and money. Democracy sucks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 841.

    Doubtless the little Englanders will be after our Welsh Water as well as Scottish Water?

    Thirsty, squeezed and crowded into the small S.E. corner whatever will little Middle England do? No more UK. They will eat each other most likely

  • rate this

    Comment number 840.

    We are an island and one of my biggest concerns in the long term is defence and security? In the modern world you can't avoid it. Will Scotland be vunerable or will the UK defence stay the same; in which case, who pays, who makes decisions etc. Border security may be an issue. One of many questions that need to be answered in detail without political point scoring.

  • rate this

    Comment number 839.

    "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."

    So that means we'll be legally bound to prevent Scottish secession, even if the referendum vote is for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 838.

    It will be humerous to witness Scotland's independance. To see them voting out of blind pride and lower their standard of living, standing in the world and having to find a currency that isnt the pound.

    However, I think (and hope) that Scotland has enough rational people to see that this is a doomed venture and Alex Salmond will go down in history as the latest Oliver Cromwell.


Page 34 of 76


More Scotland politics stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.