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Scotland insists it has mandate for independence referendum in 2014

And it wants to hold it on its own terms, defying the wishes of the UK government in Wesminster which wants the vote to be held sooner.

British PM David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond pictured in June 2011.
British PM David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond pictured in June 2011.
Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE SCOTTISH FIRST Minister Alex Salmond has insisted that his government has a mandate to hold a referendum on independence from the UK and will do so in the autumn of 2014, defying the the wishes of the UK government to hold it sooner.

While the UK says that Scotland cannot legally hold a referendum without its authority, Salmond is adamant that British Prime Minister David Cameron has “no mandate” to set the rules and suggested this morning that any attempt to do so would “increase support for independence”.

While Salmond yesterday said Scotland would hold an independence referendum in the autumn of 2014 – the 700th anniversary of the decisive Battle of Bannockburn during the First War of Scottish Independence – Cameron wants the issue to be sorted out sooner.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme this morning, Salmond said that Cameron had “suddenly this week decided to start pulling strings and setting conditions.”

“I thought his [Cameron's] intervention at the weekend was almost Thatcher-esque in its nature, the idea that London knows best and it is operating in our best interests but wanting to set the ground rules for our referendum despite the fact it has got no mandate whatsoever for doing so,” Salmond told the programme.

The leader of the Scottish National Party claimed the UK government’s Scottish Secretary Michael Moore had previously said the issue of a referendum was “entirely a matter for the Scottish government”.

He also denied that in potentially wanting a third option on any prospective ballot paper that he was seeking a “get out clause”.

Salmond said there needed to be a debate beyond a straightforward question of whether Scotland should be in or out of the UK as the Westminster government is keen for.

He said there needed to be a discussion about “a legitimate point of view” that there be a third option for voters, that being ‘devo max’ which would provide increased financial powers for the Scottish government but stop short of full independence from the UK.

As well as being at odds over the timing of a referendum and the ballot paper options, the Scottish and UK administrations differ on who should run the process and what the voting age should be with Scotland advocating that 16 and 17-year-olds be allowed to vote in the referendum.

The BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson has suggested that the dispute could lead to a historic Supreme Court battle between Westminster and Holyrood.

Explainer: What’s happening in Scotland?

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Hugh O'Connell

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