Proposed date for Scottish independence named

November 24, 2013 10:49 AM

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Proposed date for Scottish independence named

Scotland could be independent on 24 March, 2016, if voters back leaving the UK in the independence referendum, the Deputy First Minister has announced.

The date is included in the Scottish government's White Paper, described as a "blueprint" for independence.

Nicola Sturgeon said it was a "landmark document" which has economic growth, jobs and fairness at its heart.

The Scotland Office said naming a date weakened the government's negotiating position in the event of a yes vote.

The 670-page white paper will be available as a hard copy and as an e-book, and will be published on Tuesday.

Ms Sturgeon said it would be the document that drives the independence debate, providing the positive case for a vote in favour of independence.

"This guide to an independent Scotland will be the most comprehensive and detailed blueprint of its kind ever published, not just for Scotland but for any prospective independent country," she said.

"It is a landmark document which sets out the economic, social and democratic case for independence.

"It demonstrates Scotland's financial strengths and details how we will become independent - the negotiations, preparations and agreements that will be required in the transition period from a vote for independence in September next year to our proposed Independence Day of 24 March 2016 and in time for the first elections to an independent Scottish Parliament in May of that year."

Ms Sturgeon said the document was designed above all for the public and urged people to read it, compare it with any alternative future for Scotland and make up their own minds.

"Firstly, the choices that we will negotiate in the transition period - as the government leading negotiations - and which will therefore provide the starting point for an independent Scotland.

Naming the date of independence ahead of a referendum result would only weaken the Scottish government's negotiating position if Scotland voted to leave the UK”

"Secondly, the policy choices that we will make if this administration forms the government of an independent Scotland from May 2016."

Ms Sturgeon added: "The route to a successful Scotland is greater economic growth that benefits all and which supports greater participation - particularly amongst women - in the workplace and the economy as a whole.

"Ensuring that work pays, for example through a decent minimum wage, is central to our economic and social approach."

An initial print run of 20,000 copies has been produced but it will be made available to everyone who requests a copy.

The independence referendum will take place on 18 September next year, and the proposed Independence Day of Thursday 24 March 2016 follows the dissolution of the current Scottish Parliament, which is set to be scheduled to take place at midnight on Wednesday 23 March, 2016.

A Scotland Office spokesman said: "Naming the date of independence ahead of a referendum result would only weaken the Scottish government's negotiating position if Scotland voted to leave the UK.

"People in Scotland still don't know the full terms the Scottish government would try to negotiate but the 28 members of the EU, Nato and the rest of the UK would all know that for the Scottish government the date is more important than the deal.

"We agree people should read the White Paper and the UK government's evidence and make up their own mind on the referendum issue."

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, the Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael argued that the union was in the interests of all UK voters.

He said: "I think there are people all over the country who kind of take the existence of the United Kingdom for granted.

"What we've got to get across is that this is a very real danger to the future of the United Kingdom and that in fact the United Kingdom is good, not just for Scots.

"It's good for people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well. This should not just be allowed to become some sort of Punch and Judy match between Edinburgh and London."


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