The UK government has begun the process to pave the way for a referendum on Scottish independence, the Guardian reports.A draft order to temporarily increase the powers of the Scottish parliament, thus allowing it to call for a referendum on independence was drawn up by the UK government in Westminster on Tuesday.
While the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) wants to hold the referendum in 2014, the proposed Section 30 order (which would have to be approved by both the UK and Scottish parliaments) allows a referendum to be staged within 12 to 18 months. This is what UK Prime Minister David Cameron wants, but the question of a deadline will not be considered until after consultation on the order concludes in March.
In a foreword to the document, Cameron and his deputy, Nick Clegg, stress that while they did not want the break-up of the union, it was only fair that the people of Scotland should be allowed to vote on whether they wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom.
The paper also provided the alternative of amending the Scotland bill, which is currently going through parliament, to authorise a referendum, while making it clear that only either of these measures would give the Scottish parliament the legal authority to hold a referendum.
The SNP has declared that if it succeeds in its goal of winning Scottish independence, Scotland would keep Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and — at least for the moment — keep the British pound as its currency, according to the AP.