Scotland, Britain Clash Over Independence Vote

Posted January 11th, 2012 at 11:40 am (UTC-5)
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Scottish leader Alex Salmond says that the people of Scotland should set the terms of a referendum on independence from Britain — not the British government.

London on Tuesday set out the conditions under which Scotland can decide whether to sever its centuries-old constitutional ties with Britain. But the government said such a vote would be unlawful unless done with the approval of the British parliament.

First Minister Salmond on Wednesday insisted that the Scottish parliament should decide how and when to hold the referendum, saying it must be built and run in Scotland. He wants to delay the vote until late 2014 so the independence movement in Scotland can gain momentum.

But British Prime Minister David Cameron is urging Scotland to hold the referendum as soon as possible to avoid economic problems that might arise out of the issue. Mr. Cameron opposes any breakup of the United Kingdom, which also includes Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scotland now has a legislature that governs its own internal affairs and social policies, but foreign policy and defense are still controlled by London.

The parliaments of England and Scotland voted more than 300 years ago to unite in a single kingdom called Great Britain.

A 2014 vote would coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, a Scottish victory over the English. Salmond said the date is purely coincidental.