Scottish independence vote draws a step nearer as Alex Salmond issues ballot proposals


Scotland’s government today took the first official step towards holding a referendum on whether the nation should secede from the United Kingdom, according to The New York Times.

Scottish officials hope to hold the referendum in 2014, which could allow the nation of five million to sever itself in as little as four years from England, Northern Ireland and Wales. The United Kingdom was formed in 1707.

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Scottish First Minster Alex Salmond, leader of the separatist Scottish National Party, presented a proposal for the ballot and his suggestions include allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote, according to Reuters. Scotland voted in 1997 to create its own parliament.

According to the news agency, Salmond told lawmakers in Edinburgh that the ballot question should read: "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?"

He also said it could include a third option, according to Reuters: increased independence, a step short of full independence within the European Union.

The precise wording is now subject to negotiations with London, which must authorize the vote, and input from the Scottish public.

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Secession is opposed by the British government. Scottish leaders say it will allow the nation to derive greater benefit from its natural resources and tax revenues.

Polls suggest that currently only about a third of Scots support independence, according to Reuters.

British Prime Minster David Cameron said today that all Britons, not just Scots, should have a say in the future of their union.

"The point that everyone needs to understand is that options for further devolution, options for changes across the United Kingdom, are matters all of the United Kingdom should rightly discuss," he was quoted as saying by Reuters.

According to The Times, Salmond told reporters today that opinion polls in England show that many, a majority in one, favor allowing Scotland to break away.

“I’m confident, absolutely confident, that we’re going to win this argument,” he was quoted as saying, pointing to the surge in support for his party during the election campaign last year.

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