Cameron heads for Edinburgh to agree historic referendum deal with Salmond

 

David Cameron and Alex Salmond will today sign off on a historic deal to hold a single question referendum on whether Scotland should remain in the United Kingdom.

Under plans to be formally agreed by the Prime Minister and First Minister at a meeting in Edinburgh voters will be asked a single yes/no question in the independence plebiscite and the Scottish Government will be able to extend the franchise to those aged 16 or over.

The deal sets the stage for a marathon campaign ahead of the vote which will not be held until in the autumn of 2014.

Under the terms of the agreement the Scottish Parliament will have the power to formulate the exact phrasing of the referendum question.

However this will then go to the Electoral Commission which could amend it if it is considered unclear or biased in one direction. The Electoral Commission will also set funding limits for each campaign.

"This marks the beginning of an important chapter in Scotland's story and allows the real debate to begin," Mr Cameron is expected to say. "It paves the way so that the biggest question of all can be settled: a separate Scotland or a United Kingdom? I will be making a very positive argument for our United Kingdom."

The latest polls on independence suggest that support for leaving the UK has dropped with 53 per cent backing the status quo and 28 per cent in favour of an independent Scotland.

But SNP strategists are confident that the polls will narrow as they lay out their plans for how an independent Scotland would look. They also expect extending the referendum to 16 and 17-year-olds will increase their support.

"The game has changed considerably in the past couple of weeks," the SNP's deputy leaders Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday. "The good thing about getting the process issues out of the way is that we can get on to that substantive debate about why Scotland would be better as an independent country."

The former Chancellor Alistair Darling, who is leading the cross-party Better Together campaign, said he was pleased the referendum agreement had been made.

"The key thing at stake in these negotiations was to get the single question," he told the Sunday Politics programme. "I would have preferred to have had this referendum in the autumn of 2013 because frankly a two-year election campaign is going to try the patience of the public, never mind the politicians and those who write about it."

The Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore, said the process would be "legal, fair and decisive".

"I think it's a good agreement," he said. "I believe it will now allow us to put up in lights the big issues about the big debate... on what is best for Scotland.

"I believe that when we look at the economy, at defence, at our place in the world, on all these big issues people across Scotland will continue to support Scotland being in the United Kingdom.

Independence is about Scotland leaving the UK, becoming a separate state, taking on all the burdens and risks that go with that and losing the benefits and opportunities that we have as part of the UK."

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Polly Borgen at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012
peopleThe Emmy award-winner starred in Cape Fear, the Sopranos and Desperate House Wives
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teaching Assistant required in ...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam