Scottish independence: 'Transition plan' outlined

Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond Alex Salmond and his government claim Scotland can be independent in March 2016

The Scottish government has outlined a possible transition to independence in the event of a "Yes" vote in the autumn 2014 referendum.

Independence day for Scotland would be in March 2016, with the first elections to an independent parliament in May.

First Minister Alex Salmond said the timescale was in line with previous international experience.

UK ministers said the SNP was failing to make the case for independence and focussing too much on "process".

The Scottish government wants to ask voters the yes/no question, "Should Scotland be an independent country", in autumn 2014, although it has yet to name the actual date.

A 16-page document published by SNP ministers has set out a possible transition from a "Yes" vote in the referendum to independence day in March 2016.

It came before the UK government next week publishes an analysis on the impact of independence.

The Scottish government paper envisages ministers joining other parties and civic groups to negotiate the terms of independence with the UK government, which would see the division of assets and liabilities, new global connections - including the EU - and Scotland's retention of the monarchy.

There would then be a written Scottish constitution, "which reflects the values of the people of Scotland", according to the document.


Alex Salmond's timetable for independence, in the event of a "Yes" vote in the referendum, seems to have shortened.

In January 2012, the Scottish government said: "May 2016 will see the election of the next Scottish Parliament which would become the Parliament of an independent Scotland."

In other words, independence day would fall at some point during the 2016-2020 parliament.

By March 2012, Scottish Education Secretary, Mike Russell, told the BBC that independence could be negotiated in a "single year" following a "Yes" vote in the autumn 2014 referendum.

He predicted the "moment" of independence could arrive in time for the May 2016 elections.

Now the Scottish government intends that Scotland would become independent "in March 2016, just before the start of the 2016 election campaign".

On this timetable, the devolved SNP administration would become the first government of an independent Scotland.

Transferring powers before the election would also prevent the possibility that Scotland votes for independence and then elects pro-union parties to negotiate the terms.

Or call a fresh referendum.

Mr Salmond urged UK ministers to agree to joint talks on the process surrounding the referendum result, as recommended by the Electoral Commission watchdog.

The first minister told BBC Scotland: "30 countries have gone through the process of having a referendum and then becoming independent.

"The average timescale for these 30 countries since the Second World War is 15 months - we've actually allowed a bit longer than that in the process."

Turning to those campaigning to keep the Union, Mr Salmond said: "The question they've got to answer is, if 30 other countries managed to do it, then why couldn't Scotland?"

The first minister said his government was setting out a range of proposals ahead of a substantive White Paper on independence, due towards the end of the year.

He said: "The 'No' side seem to think we're not doing anything until November - I think they've been taken a bit by surprise by the amount of work that we've been doing.

"We're putting forward what we think is the best future for Scotland, the best way to do it. We're putting forward how the processes will unveil.

"The 'No' campaign seem to think their role is to stamp their feet and say, 'you cannae do it'. Well, yes we can."

For the UK government, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said it was already setting out views on the post-referendum process.

Mr Moore said: "The Scottish government should be concentrating on the substantive issues of the independence debate, rather than endless distractions over process.

"Once again, they are devoting their energy to the picture-frame when they don't have a painting to put in it.

"We haven't even got a date for the referendum, let alone any detail on what independence would mean for people in areas like the economy, welfare, energy and financial services."

The Scottish secretary added: "People in Scotland appreciate the benefits of remaining part of the United Kingdom family and that is why they remain strongly opposed to independence."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, speaking in the Commons, said the UK government's "dispassionate analysis" of the impact of Scottish independence would be a "powerful addition" to the debate, and the first in a series of papers on the issue.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1510.

    @1488 spdrum71
    I watched the section 30 referendum debate in the house of commons and the Scottish Labour MPs particularly, were an absolute disgrace. No self respecting Scot should ever vote these people again. Anyone who has not had the pleasure of watching these people working on our behalf, please watch the debate for eyeopener !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1509.

    As it seems with all Referendums, if you do not get the result that the people in power want, HAVE ANOTHER ONE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1508.

    Alex Salmond is determined to get his way, we will see, however I think the majority of Scots are much less biased and clear thinking than he is.
    Meantime I hope that the people of Faslane etc are ready to see the business moved to Plymouth on Independence day should that ever happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1507.

    North Sea oil was discovered between Norway and Scotland in the 1970's.

    Norway now runs a huge £500bn wealth fund. The interest from this alone pays for their public services and provides decent wages for everyone. They will never, ever be poor.

    Compare this to Scotland where her oil wealth has been abused by Westminster to fund benefits and bonuses in the City of London.

    Vote YES

  • rate this

    Comment number 1506.

    The saddest posts on here by far are those from the obvious "we hate the SNP because they bet us at the last election" Labour activists on here. They are in a panic, static in the polls, with no policies other than that which they steal from the tories down south. Vote yes Let Scotland grow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1505.

    Joe, you don't seem to have a handle on the figures. The UK government has admitted that Scotland at worst would be £1 per head worse off, and that was not including Oil, which despite being a depleted resource still provides significant revenue, the majority of which is used outside Scotland, which could be used to help develop the Scottish economy.
    I think it might be England that is worse off

  • rate this

    Comment number 1504.

    As a Canadian living in Scotland, my unbiased view on this whole situation is that the SNP are a bunch of two-faced opportunists looking to seize power that they have no idea how to control or pay for (hint: taxes will go UP A LOT!!). Most sensible people I know in Scotland believe that Scotland should remain in the U.K. We want better representation - not sovereignty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1503.

    3 Minutes ago
    IF Scotland goes independent and IF the rest of the UK leaves Europe, I shall brave your bad weather and relocate north...

    ..... Come and join us Megan! Despite what you may read here we don't hate the English - just hate being governed by Westminster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1502.

    Its said to say it but good the sooner we can be free of them the better, Since the rise of Salmond there's be an increasing level of really abussive nationalism based on a deep hatred of the English the pot being vigerously stirred by Salmond and his henchmen I've been on the reciving end of it and it shocked & saddend me they seem stuck in the past & blame us for all their ills.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1501.

    ''We're bought and sold for English gold.''

    No longer a proud nation

  • rate this

    Comment number 1500.

    Just now

    Keep dreaming. Support for separation has been stuck at or falling to between 23% -30%. The argument is lost. The Better Together campaign however has argued for the benefits of the union, be it economic, diplomatic, military or cultural. All Alex Salmond and the SNP have told us is that we would automatically be in the EU. Which was an unsubstantiated lie.

  • Comment number 1499.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1498.

    There are some hilariously xenophobic and idiotic statements in these comments. All this hatred makes me think the best thing is independence for all 4 nations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1497.


    "why does the proposal retain the monarchy?"

    Before the act of union in 1707, we had whats called a 'personal union' with England, in which the royal family was monarch of both kingdoms but the politics (ie: the actual power) was split. A personal union worked well because it allowed us to work together in spirit whilst still governing ourselves. Many think that is the best possible option

  • rate this

    Comment number 1496.

    1 million Bulgarians and Rumanians coming soon.

    They can take in a non-stop, High-Speed train from Dover to Scotland. Has Alex Salmond staffed up Scottish Border Control in these plans?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1495.

    Why are comments such as 740 being chosen as editors picks when they are clearly (having been proven false) informing people with misinformation?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1494.

    It won't happen, there should be a groundswell of nationalism by now but I see no sign of it on my travels around Scotland. Lets get the vote out of the way once and for all and get Scotland working again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1493.

    I'm Scottish and will vote no. Not because I have always been pleased with how things are in the Union, but there is frankly too much uncertainty about independence. It has taken a year to decide the question. I think I am just bored of it all... two years until we vote. spare me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1492.

    Devolution has shown us the woeful level of governance we can expect should independence be foisted upon the scottish people. The current administration can't or won't give us the details of what they mean by independence, indeed their vague responses have been roundly contradicted by the EU. The level of debate resembles a neighbours argument over the back fence. Save us from this amateurish mob

  • rate this

    Comment number 1491.

    It makes me laugh all these posters going on about North Sea oil.
    Just like all the debt the UK has the oil will be split on a pro-rata basis.

    So all of you north of the border will get about a tenth of the debt and about a tenth of the oil, wow that will keep you going for about a year with no other revenue.


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