Scotland moves step closer to independence vote
EDINBURGH (REUTERS) - Scotland takes a big step on its path towards an independence referendum on Monday when its leader meets Britain's prime minister to finalise arrangements for a vote which could lead to the demise of Scotland's three-centuries-old union with England.
Scotland's drive for sovereignty, led by its nationalist leader Alex Salmond, echoes separatist moves by other European regions such as Catalonia and Flanders at a time when a crisis-hit European Union undergoes deep changes to its identity.
Expected to be signed in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, the deal will allow Scotland to decide in a 2014 referendum whether it should become an independent country or stay within the United Kingdom.
Nationalists have timed the vote to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn when Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce defeated English invaders. Prime Minister David Cameron opposes Scotland's push, arguing that Britain is stronger together. But London agrees it is up to Scotland to decide its future for itself in a vote.