Irish Republican News · January 13, 2012
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Cameron may pre-empt Scottish independence move

British prime minister David Cameron has dramatically attempted to hijack moves towards a referendum on Scottish independence. The move has accelerated a British constitutional crisis which could have profound implications for London’s rule in the north of Ireland.

Cameron’s sudden call for a quick, all-or-nothing independence vote appears to have only increased support for the campaign led by the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) as Scottish voters saw his move as interference from London.

The SNP-controlled Scottish government has promised to hold a referendum later in the life of the Scottish parliament, probably 2014, but the London government favours a more immediate referendum, offering only a choice between full independence and the status quo -- believing it would fail.

Even Scottish Labour, which supports the continuation of a (weaker) union and also wants a speedy referendum, believes Mr Cameron’s intervention has backfired.

However, under the 1998 Westminster legislation that re-created the Scottish parliament at Holyrood, the power to change Scotland’s constitutional position remains with Tory-controlled Westminster and not Holyrood. This means Scottish first minister Alex Salmond can, under Westminster legislation, only call a non-binding referendum

Mr Salmond argues that the “moral and political force” of a victory for the pro-independence camp in such a referendum would be enormous “and impossible for a future government to ignore”.

Cameron’s Tories have already launched into a campaign to instil fear and confusion into Scottish voters. Chancellor George Osborne this week claimed “some of the largest companies in the world” had expressed concerns about the uncertainty caused by an independence referendum.

However major international corporations have all announced substantial investments in Scotland in recent months, a fact quickly pointed out by the SNP.

A 2014 referendum, favoured by the SNP, would coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the biggest ever Scottish victory over the English. It has also favoured putting a three-part question to voters on whether Scotland should be independent, or stay in the ‘United Kingdom’, or whether it should opt for the so-called “devo max” [maximum devolution], where control over full tax powers and other issues would be ceded to Edinburgh.


Following on from a meeting between 26-County Taoiseach Enda Kenny and David Cameron in London yesterday, SNP leader Alex Salmond and the British government’s Deputy leader, Nick Clegg, are visiting Dublin for talks today [Friday].

They are taking part in a meeting of the British-Irish Council, where the ‘totality of relationships’ (among the nations of Britain and Ireland) is the subject of renewed focus.

The summit is being attended by leaders from across Britain and Ireland, including Enda Kenny and the North’s First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, as well as by leaders from Wales, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Speaking in advance of the summit, SNP Deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon condemned London’s “blatant attempt to interfere in the decision that is really one for the Scottish Government in terms of the timing of the referendum and for the Scottish people in terms of the outcome”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The decision on the future of Scotland should be for the Scottish people. That’s democracy.”

However, Salmond and Clegg have already this morning held what was described as an “adult and mature” discussion on the issue of Scottish independence, but no details have yet emerged as to what was said.

Clegg is also expected to call for closer ties between Ireland and Britain as “they need each other more than ever” as a result of the global debt crisis.

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© 2012 Irish Republican News