Deal Signed Allowing Scots the Vote to Break From U.K.
By Jack Phillips On October 15, 2012 @ 5:43 pm In International | No Comments
Scotland and the British government signed an accord to allow Scots to hold a referendum on whether or not they should leave the United Kingdom.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond signed the accord, which was termed the “Edinburgh Agreement,” named after Scotland’s capital. It gives Scots the chance to vote, in the autumn of 2014, on independence from the U.K.
“This marks the beginning of an important chapter in Scotland’s story and allows the real debate to begin,” Cameron said at the signing ceremony, according to a statement.
“It paves the way so that the biggest question of all can be settled: a separate Scotland or a United Kingdom? I will be making a very positive argument for our United Kingdom,” he continued.
Cameron said it is imperative that the will of the Scottish people be respected in order for them to vote in the referendum.
“It is now up to the people of Scotland to make that historic decision. The very future of Scotland depends on their verdict. It is that important. This agreement delivers the people’s referendum,” the British prime minister said.
The referendum will consist of a single “yes” or “no” vote on whether Scotland, which has been part of the U.K. for hundreds of years, should become an independent state. It would also give 16- and 17-year-olds the ability to cast their ballot in the landmark vote.
The deal also would ensure that both the Scottish and U.K. governments work together in the best interests of Scotland, regardless of what takes place in the referendum.
“Importantly, it will ensure that the biggest decision the people of our country will make for many generations is made here in Scotland for the benefit of all of those that live and work here,” said Salmond, who supports a bid for Scottish independence, according to a statement. Scotland’s Parliament will design and deliver the referendum, he added.
Salmond said that his government wants to carry out its “ambitious vision” for the country if it becomes independent, which will be “a prosperous and successful European country, reflecting Scottish values of fairness and opportunity.”
But the signing and proposed referendum drew a mixed reaction.
Some members of the Scottish Parliament praised the move, while other politicians and organizations were not as impressed.
Johann Lamont, a parliamentarian with the Scottish Labour Party, said that the deal should not serve as a distraction “from some of the real problems being faced by families in Scotland,” according to The Daily Record.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the referendum would be “made in Scotland,” adding: “We will make it abundantly clear what people will be voting for if they vote ‘yes.’”
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organizations said that giving 16- and 17-year-olds a vote is a good idea, but narrowing the vote to “yes” or “no” is problematic.
“A second question on more powers would win hands down and that’s why it won’t be asked. A strong majority of people want more powers short of independence but the Referendum will deny them the chance to vote for the kind of change they want to see,” the group’s head, Martin Sime, said in a statement.
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