UK, Scotland to meet on referendum

UK, Scotland to meet on referendum

British Prime Minister David Cameron offered Jan. 15 to hold talks with Scottish leader Alex Salmond to thrash out their differences over arrangements for a referendum on Scottish independence that could lead to a breakup of the United Kingdom.

His offer followed a day of maneuvering between the British government and Salmond’s devolved Scottish administration as both sides competed for the high ground in an increasingly acrimonious debate over the future of the 300-year-old union between Scotland and England. Salmond’s spokesman, who had earlier accused Cameron of being “uncomfortable” and of trying to avoid holding talks with the Scottish leader, hailed the move as “real progress.” A spokeswoman for Cameron said no date had been set for the meeting.

Different views

Cameron has said he wants a referendum to take place as soon as possible, putting him at odds with Salmond’s Scottish National Party (SNP) which is eyeing a vote in 2014. Michael Moore, the British minister for Scotland in the United Kingdom’s London-based government, has asked for a meeting with Salmond to discuss the clash over the vote which could break up a 305-year-old union.

An opinion poll published in the Mail on Jan. 15 showed that only 26 percent of Scots backed independence from Britain. Some 29 percent of English and Welsh people who were polled supported Scottish independence. A poll in the Sunday Telegraph found that 40 percent of Scots backed independence, against 43 percent among the English who wanted Scotland out of the union.

Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff