11 Jan 2012

Salmond pledges 2014 Scottish independence vote

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond defies Westminster by revealing plans to hold a referendum on independence in 2014, more than a year later than David Cameron’s proposed vote.

Alex Salmond - Reuters

Mr Salmond accused Westminster of trying to interfere in plans for the controversial poll and said that autumn 2014 is when he envisages it happening.

The move comes after Mr Cameron offered Mr Salmond the chance of a binding referendum, but only if it is held within 18 months – by the middle of 2013.

On Tuesday, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore set out London’s position in a statement to the House of Commons, in which he said that any attempt to mount a referendum on the basis of legislation passed at Holyrood would be unlawful and could be struck down by the courts.

Instead, a draft order drawn up in Westminster could temporarily extend the Scottish parliament’s powers, allowing it to hold a poll on the single question of whether or not Scotland should remain in the UK.

However a spokesman for Mr Salmond said Scottish National Party ministers were “entirely confident” of their plans.

Read more: What if Scotland chooses independence?

And Mr Salmond said that Westminster should “resist the temptation” to interfere in Scottish politics.

“I think the Westminster parties have got to start understanding – all Westminster politicians – that this has to be a referendum made, built, and run in Scotland,” he said.

He said the 2014 timescale was desirable “because this is the biggest decision Scotland has made for 300 years”.

“If you are going to do things properly, allow the proper process to take place, that debate in the way that it must be had, then that is the date we are going to move towards,” Mr Salmond added.