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 997.

    Is there anyone else that thinks the permitting of 16 and 17 year old's to vote is just a quick and easy way of exploiting an extra few hundred thousand Yes votes?

    On the face of it, everyone will want an independent country. People need to know what will ACTUALLY happen to the country if independent - will 16/17 year olds investigate that? I doubt it.

    Dodgy tactics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 996.

    #136&153 I live in England, I'm Scottish, I'm not allowed to vote on the matter. Yet Salmond says he wants to ensure that "the fundamental right of the people of Scotland to choose their own future is respected by all"

    This isn’t just small time politics - this is a matter of NATIONAL interest and will be absolutely irreversible yet Brits living in England dont get a say! PRO UNION

  • rate this

    Comment number 995.

    What is it all going to cost and who's going to pay? The Scottish parliament has already cost £billions that could have gone into, schools, health and services. Not to mention of course that it was the Scottish King James VI who created the Union in the first place or is their own History not a strong point with the Scots?

  • Comment number 994.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 993.

    interesting situation here....certainly be the end of labour rule in england, if scotland vote to leave uk......I can see a few people moving north,maybe good news for england perhaps.

  • rate this

    Comment number 992.

    Actually we do - Scottish culture is thriving in the form of music, literature, history and language. The Western Isles first language is Gaelic. Local dialects are still spoken widely. I'm Scottish and voting 'NO' to independence but that does not mean I am not hugely proud of our culture and heritage

  • rate this

    Comment number 991.

    Just now
    Oh the joy of not having Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond on our screens if they win. Please Scots vote for independence so that we can be rid of these hideously self righteous people!

    ... I know where you are coming from. I personally can't stand the sight of Cameron, Osborne, Milliband and Clegg - can't wait to be rid of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 990.

    Have been reading Tea Leaves.

    Scotland Devolves but remains in the EU.

    In 2050 the Federated States of Europe is formed, which includes Scotland and the rest of the UK.

    2051 we are hit by a big meteorite destroying all humans.

    2052 Moths inherit the Earth.

    The Leaves have spoken.

  • rate this

    Comment number 989.

    I don't really get all the angst present in so many posts. Scotland voted in the Nationalist SNP with a landslide. Fair enough. Just get on with planning for the separation and all the many difficult and contentious issues which undoubtably will arise. Each side from their own perspective of course. But don't wait. Do it now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 988.

    The best way for the SNP to get a YES vote is to let the English take part.

  • rate this

    Comment number 987.

    922 "The insistence on including children in the referendum reflects the obvious fact that children are suspectible to emotional propaganda and manipulation by political hustlers. "

    In what way is someone old enough to marry, have children, and join the army a 'child'? In this country you become an adult at 16.

  • rate this

    Comment number 986.

    "what about WALES"

    As a Scotsman that is my fear, all the anti-Scottish comments and claims (correct or not) about Scotland being a drain on England will turn on the Welsh if Scotland leaves (at which point Scots can only blame ourselves). What these HYS tell me is there is a lot of finger pointing and blame but little appreciation of others contributions in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 985.

    Autumn/winter 2012
    Electoral Commission begins the practical preparations, including testing the fairness and clarity of the question

    Q1)"Do you want an Independent Scotland, sink or swim?"
    Q1) "Do you want an Independent Scotland Dependant on England when it goes pear shaped?"
    Q1) "Do you want an Independent Scotland totally Dependant on the EU?"
    Q2) "Do you have any savings"

  • rate this

    Comment number 984.

    Reading some of the comments on here saddens me - the simple fact is that we're stronger as the UK, together. How on earth are we supposed to split resources based upon years of sharing? What happens to our privileges in the UN? If we split, Britain will vanish as a world power and have to reapply to the UN. I strongly advise anyone to vote to stay together and not throw away what we have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 983.

    It will be a sad day if Scotland leaves the UK. Remember if you do, you have to pay your FAIR share of the debt.

    To those Scots that say "Nay" to that... Remember Gordon Brown was Scottish!

  • rate this

    Comment number 982.

    Fine Scotland have your independence but don't expect to come cap in hand to London. If you want independence then you have to stand on your own two feet and raise taxes to run your country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 981.

    I think we have enough say in scotland today, i dont see the need to take that extra step in leaving the UK. lets get real we all have some sort of family north and south so lets keep it together.

  • rate this

    Comment number 980.

    Do you think the French and Germans will favour a break up? I do, and what is good for them is bad for all of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 979.

    Many Scots believe England 'took' Scotland through wars. This couldn't be further from truth. Alex obviously doesn't want the Sun readers and quite a few others in Scotland to know about this :)
    England had no heir to the thrown at the time, so Scotland's King James VI was invited to become King of England. He, a Stewart, jumped at the chance, and also became King James I of England.

  • rate this

    Comment number 978.

    I shall be voting yes. Scotland has an opportunity and should grab it. We can adopt a model of Capitalism based more upon the Scandinavian or German model. One that serves the people, the Nation and the community instead of dicatate from London's brutal 'deregulated free market City based madness'. Norway's investment policies are an idication that Scotland can be as success Independantly.


Page 27 of 76


More Scotland politics stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. 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.