Scottish Leader Details Possible Independence Referendum

Posted January 25th, 2012 at 1:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Scotland's first minister is pushing for a clear referendum on independence from Britain, while advocating that 16- and 17-year-olds be allowed to take part.

Scottish leader Alex Salmond shared his proposal for the potential vote with lawmakers in Edinburgh Wednesday, during an event commemorating Scottish poet Robert Burns.

He said the question on the ballot should read, “Do you agree Scotland should be an independent country?” He also raised the possibility of including an option for greater autonomy from Britain without full independence.

Salmond said 16- and 17-year-old Scots should be allowed to take part in the referendum, since they are already allowed to register for the army and get married, and are required to pay taxes.

Salmond's Scottish National Party wants to hold the referendum in 2014 so its independence movement can gain momentum. Current polls show only about one-third of Scots support independence.

Britain says any independence vote would be unlawful unless done with the approval of the British parliament.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he is against any separation, but that the will of the Scottish people must be respected. However, he also said that if a vote is to be held, it must not be delayed.

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.

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