sLondon : An independent Scotland would retain the British monarch and the pound but create its own defence force, a senior minister said on Tuesday as he unveiled a comprehensive roadmap for a historic referendum in 2014. “Independence will put the people of Scotland in charge of our own destiny,” First Minister Alex Salmond said at the launch of the 670-page “white paper” in Glasgow.
“Scotland’s future is now in Scotland’s hands. We’d become independent in more promising circumstances than virtually any other nation in history,” he told a packed news conference. Salmond said an independent Scotland would keep the British pound and the queen, and remain in the European Union but have its own defence force and collect its own taxes.
The Scottish government’s long-awaited “white paper”, aimed at convincing Scots they should vote on September 18 next year to end a 306-year union with the UK, promised a “revolution” in social policy, with childcare at its heart.
On September 18, Scots will be asked the yes/no question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” For the first time, the document set out detailed plans for currency, taxation, childcare, welfare and other issues facing an independent Scotland. It also promised to “build a more democratic, more prosperous, fairer society”.
“This is the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published, not just for Scotland but for any prospective independent nation,” Salmond, the head of the Scottish National Party, said. “But more than that, it is a mission statement and a prospectus for the kind of country we should be and which this government believes we can be.”
He said the paper addresses 650 questions that have been asked about issues such as the economy, how the welfare system would work and the implications for defence. Salmond pledged to draft an economic policy for Scottish businesses and industry. He said independence would allow Scotland to harness its vast potential as a country.
“Ultimately at the heart of this debate there’s only one question – do we, the people who live and work in Scotland, believe that we are the best people to take the big decisions about our future?”
Scotland was united with England in 1707, laying thefoundation for today’s UK. The decision to hold a referendum was made after negotiations with a strongly pro-independence government that has been in power in Scotland since 2007.