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 1570.

    To all those people that seem to believe that the Scottish people need to be told that they will become entirely responsible for paying for their own "bills" in an independent Scotland , thank you, we know, we understand the meaning of "independent" and don't need to be patronised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1569.

    If the UK's education system produced the person commenting @ 1470 then I will campaign for independence with my last breath!
    Scotland funds our "free" things ourself or do you believe that we spend our days chasing haggis round the mountains while claiming benefits!
    We have to balance our books and are funded by block grant BACK from the Exchequer to which we send our tax money!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1568.

    England V Scotland NO IT'S NOT.
    SNP V Tory Government NO IT'S NOT.
    National Collective of people living in Scotland including Englishmen like myself V Westminster. YES IT IS!
    VOTE YES IN 2014.
    Also it would be helpful to the rest of the UK residents if the BBC stopped the anti Independence and pro Union reporting to give a more balanced view on the mater.

  • Comment number 1567.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1566.

    The SNP don't seem to give any real justified information about being independent, it just seems to me like they are running for the door without any real thought process. They could upset a lot of Scots if they aren't careful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1565.

    Dear JasonEssex - FYI GERS is produced by the Civil Service, over the years under each political franchise. The methodology necessitates making assumptions as much of the data is at UK level only. It is regularly challenged and so has evolved; it is now very sophisticated. Equating this document to the nonsense that the Daily Mail and Telegraph spout on a daily basis is quite disingenuous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1564.

    @1557. lalwanis

    does Scottish independence means less tax to pay on the south side of the border? If yes then please kick scotland out.
    nope, because governments charge as much tax as they can get away with, not as much as is neccessary

  • rate this

    Comment number 1563.

    Will you vote Yes or No?

    Yes [ ]
    No [ ]

  • rate this

    Comment number 1562.

    Here's an interesting scenario... Scotland votes YES and remains in the EU. The UK votes in the ConDem government at the next election and votes NO to EU membership. Overnight Scotland becomes an important financial and economic centre, and important English-speaking gateway directly into Europe. Bring it on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1561.

    Yet another waste of our money. The SNP are hell bent on pumping money into this independance vote. I'm Scottish and I will be definitely voting No in this referendum. They are planning ahead of their needs and should be focusing on issues now, not over three years ahead. Surely the SNP will be disbanded or named changed if a yes vote as theiir sole policy would be non-existant - independance?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1560.

    It's like a baboonery of Nationalist Separatists shrieking with excitement at the headline in here.

    The need to ask themselves this;

    Why is it that despite a hated Tory led coalition; allegedly the worst economy in living memory; a majority SNP government (and it's propaganda victimhood machine); its own referendum question yet support for Separatism is a lowly 30% and has been for decades?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1559.

    1470 Joe

    A shining example of your 'edicuation' system, Joe?

    You clearly seem to be as ignorant of Scottish issues, and politics in general, as you are of spelling words correctly

  • rate this

    Comment number 1558.

    @1504.DiFiasco, what an interesting (though utterly foolish) comment about the democratically elected government of Scotland, elected via a landslide by the people of Scotland. Elected because of their good record in government. Seems to me they are perfectly capable. You should concern yourself with Quebec's wishes, mind your own.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1557.

    does Scottish independence means less tax to pay on the south side of the border? If yes then please kick scotland out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1556.

    I wonder what Mr Mundell our only Tory MP will do if we vote for independence. I suppose he should book the removal van now as there will be a rush of English people moving back south.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1555.

    1507. James
    Compare this to Scotland where her oil wealth has been abused by Westminster to fund benefits and bank bonuses.


    Very convenient to focus on the oil.

    What about the annual £bns which Scotland gains from being a net tax taker from Westminster for decades?

    You can scoff all you like, & drag the banks into it, it doesn't change the facts.

    To walk away from the UK would be stupid!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1554.

    1035.britain_is_now_polarised not quite sure what your point is here, so Scotland has a few bigots - if trying to prove yourself superior to this then you failed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1553.

    @1543 Between Saudi Arabia and Senegal presumably.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1552.

    Scots who say "we pay more than we get back" are correct if you look at the basic figures. These amounts though dont include Scotlands share of EU costs, Foreign policy (aid,embassies et cetera), defence et al that an independent Scotland would have to pay for. And Alex Sammond has yet to say what the costs are or how to pay for it, he is already asking for borrowing powers. Not enough is known

  • rate this

    Comment number 1551.

    What about us scots who don't want independence. I consider myself British first and Scottish second. If a Yes vote is declared next year, I will move to England without a doubt. Don't write us all off as independence raving braveheart's....


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