Wales 'could be next to secede from Britain'

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The Independent Online

The United Kingdom is like the Titanic and it is now "just a question of how long it takes to sink", a senior Conservative MP claimed yesterday.

Speaking ahead of the Scottish Government's announcement today of how independence from England might work, David Davies, chairman of the Welsh Affairs committee, suggested that Wales was likely to follow Scotland down the path to independence.

The UK is "holed below the waterline" Mr Davies said. "It's just a question of how long it takes to sink."

With a new opinion poll suggesting that half the population believe the UK will not exist in 20 years, the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, pictured, will suggest today that an independent Scotland could be a beacon for innovation – while avoiding the pitfalls of separation from England.

He will confirm that the country would still use sterling as a currency, have the Queen as head of state and avoid the need for traditional border controls with its southern neighbour.

The consultation document will attempt to paint objectors to independence as "scaremongers" and accentuate the positive aspects of independence from England.

Mr Salmond said: "The pro-independence campaign will enthuse and engage people the length and breadth of Scotland with our positive vision for the future of the country.

"The referendum will offer the people of Scotland a historic choice on their own future, and the consultation we publish this week will help inform that choice." The document is expected to highlight Scottish policies for free university tuition, no prescription charges and free personal care for the elderly.

Mr Salmond said the current British constitutional settlement prevents Scotland from "innovating" in more areas, such as welfare.

He added that an independent Scotland would play an "active and responsible" role in the world. "After Scotland becomes independent, we will share more than a monarchy and a currency. We will share a social union," he said.

"It just won't be the same as a restrictive state which no longer serves the interests of either Scotland or England."