The Straits Times
Published on Oct 16, 2012

Scotland secures terms for 2014 independence vote


EDINBURGH (AFP) - Britain's prime minister and Scotland's first minister have fired the starting gun on a two-year campaign for the hearts and minds of Scottish voters ahead of an independence referendum to be held in 2014.

Prime Minister David Cameron and pro-independence First Minister Alex Salmond inked the deal and shook hands in cold autumn sunlight on Monday after a meeting at the Scottish government building, St Andrews House, in Edinburgh.

Mr Cameron strongly opposes a Scottish breakaway which would end 300 years of union, while Mr Salmond's Scottish National Party (SNP) espouses an independent Scotland.

After months of negotiations, the Edinburgh deal clears the way for Scotland's administration to hold the vote in the last quarter of 2014, offering Scots a straight yes-no question on leaving the United Kingdom.