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 1517.

    I'm a British expat living in Canada (Ontario) where we are tired (in English Canada) of the separation question. We've had it three times and now have a separatist Quebec government again. If the Scottish don't get the answer they want, they'll have another referendum later and it will be a bore. To borrow on a trend here were can a get my bumper sticker "My Britain does not include Scotland"

  • rate this

    Comment number 1516.

    I am a Scotsman living in the Channel Islands. I think it would be wonderful if the United Kingdom remained as united as possible. After having listened to a few short sighted politicians, I still do not understand why independence is necessary. United we stand, divided we fall. It's got to be about more that having our own olympic team!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1515.

    A agree to a point that a bunch of Londoners are out of touch with the rest of Britain, mainly rural areas. But surely the costs and affects of splitting will be phenomenal due to: type of money, sports, the BBC and the military. A Sottish government with more power is more appropriate.

  • Comment number 1514.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1513.

    @ Fred Bloggs

    "Tell me one thing Labour did which is in the countries interest but not in their own interest..."

    Maybe the national health service and universal state pensions in 1948.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1512.

    As a non-Scot why don't I get the choice to vote? It seems to me that this is unfair, I have no say in the continuation or otherwise of the Union. I should be able to vote whether Scotland stays in as well.

    Personally I hope the SNP win and we go our divergent ways. Close off all 'shared' facilities etc including all social economic military and cultural services.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1511.

    If the Scots vote to leave the Union, will it mean they'll have to start paying for their own freebies that the English currently subsidise i.e. free uni education, free care for the elderly, free prescriptions, free hospital parking etc.?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1510.

    Bring on the referendum. Lets hope we have a mature and sensible debate which is about the real core issues (not petty party political squabbles) with as little mud slinging as possible.

    I live south of the border and see myself as British first and English second. I value the party Scotland plays in the union, so I hope the Scottish people will vote no to Independence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1509.

    1494.Eddie - all well and good, but there is very little factual information out there. And frankly, I'm not minded to vote for something pushed by a party who've been campaigning on this for decades, yet don't have anything concrete ready to publish? Why not? What have they been basing all their claims/policies on over all those years? Suspicious, no?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1508.

    I don't know how I would feel living in Scotland, but with Scottish relatives and Sheltland ancestors, I would be sad if they decided to break away, and I needed a passport to visit! Lots of questions to be asked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1507.

    1483. Colombian Boffin

    Name Number 6

    Andy doesn't live in Scotland, so he won't have a vote.
    Is that for tax reasons?

    1498. best possible taste

    My sister has just returned from Australia, where she met a lot of Irish All of them without exception said the same thing .

    ' Ireland is not our country any more. ' (immigration)
    90% of my family live in Ireland and they say no such thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1506.

    I am Scottish and living in England .If Scotland becomes Independent where is wee Eck going to get all the money he needs for the following
    1 Scotland will need it`s own armed forces
    2 New money will have to be minted as the Queens head will have to be removed from all Scottish currency
    3 the postal system will have to be renamed as it can no longer be known as The Royal Mail,is wee Eck paying

  • rate this

    Comment number 1505.

    The problem with current voting is that the majority of people are not interested so representatives and policies are always chosen by a ridiculously small minority, most of whom would rather discuss, listen to or watch anything except politics (but are quick to complain about policies they dislike- and 16-year olds will be no worse in this respect). This referendum will probably be the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1504.

    Don't panic! Scotland isn't going anywhere. We may be a wealthy country, but we have neither the budget nor the will to move the country somewhere else, even if this might improve the weather.

    This referendum is about who is best equipped to make decisions on behalf of Scotland. The people who live here, or people who live elsewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1503.

    @138.The Earl of Suffolk
    I'm very interested to know what would happen with; banks, defence, EU, NATO membership, currency, economy, north sea oil, taxes, public sector, pensions, NHS etc etc etc

    if you look at the republic of Ireland (from 1921 on) then you get a rough idea of how it will work & how the seperation will take place

  • rate this

    Comment number 1502.

    343. brummie123
    So does scotland benifit from the infrastructure thats been built over the last 100 years ?
    Can they still use our roads after they have left or should we close the border and let them govern themselves.

    Brumie123 ... you have heard of tarmac, right? Macadam? McAdam? Mc? Never mind. I'm a Brit (English, Irish, Cornish mix) and left the UK because of this type of twaddle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1501.

    How is it that Cameron so easily agrees to a Scottish independence referendum - where there is still so much yet to understand about the consequences of a 'yes' vote - but he does not agree to a referendum on EU membership because of supposed uncertainty over what a future EU will comprise? A betting man might say it's because he already knows the answers he'll get..

  • Comment number 1500.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1499.

    If we believe in the principles of democracy then we have to agree that any result to the referendum with a large majority is the correct decision at the time. As a Scot living in England its a shame I wont get a say. I have always thought a Scandinavia system would benefit Scotland, however this would mean large tax rises basically from day one of independence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1498.

    1480. proe

    Funny !

    It's odd, many Irish on here stirring things up.

    My sister has just returned from a year in Australia, where she met a lot of Irish. All of them without exception said the same thing .

    ' Ireland is not our country any more. ' (immigration)

    You concern yourselves with paying back your EU masters.


Page 1 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.