Monday 20 November 2017

Cameron offers deal as he urges Scottish voters to reject split

Dean Gray in Glasgow

David Cameron defended the political union between Scotland and England yesterday, urging voters north of the border to reject independence in exchange for more powers.

The British prime minister did not explain what the powers could be but argued that the major decision on whether Scotland should leave the Union must be settled first.

First Minister Alex Salmond immediately hit back, warning that Scots "won't be fooled" by the offer, which Mr Cameron made for the first time yesterday.

In his speech, Mr Cameron said: "I am open to looking at how the devolved settlement can be improved further. And, yes, that does mean considering what further powers could be devolved.

"But that must be a question for after the referendum, when Scotland has made its choice about the fundamental question of independence or for the United Kingdom." Mr Cameron was forced to use a side door at the Scottish Government's St Andrew's House headquarters because of a demonstration by anti-cuts protesters.

After the talks, Mr Salmond identified the issue of whether there should be one or two questions on the ballot paper as a major stumbling block.

The First Minister wants the ballot to be held in autumn 2014 and has suggested allowing a second question onto the ballot paper specifically on greater devolved powers.

However, his critics have called this a fall-back in the event of a 'No' vote, and that it could muddy the waters.

Mr Salmond said Scotland had been in a similar scenario, recalling that in the run-up to the 1979 devolution referendum MP Alec Douglas-Home had said a Tory government would introduce a better Scottish Assembly.

Mr Salmond said: "What happened then was 17, 18 years of no deal at all from the Conservative government."

He added: "The shadow of Douglas-Home I think is cast very large over this. What's the old saying: 'fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me'. Scotland, I don't believe, will be fooled twice."

Mr Cameron said: "I come here today with one simple message: I hope and wish that Scotland will vote to remain part of the United Kingdom."

Irish Independent

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