EDINBURGH, Scotland, May 9 (UPI) -- First Minister Alex Salmond, head of the Scottish National Party, has refused to hold a referendum on independence before 2010.
Salmond rejected a surprise call for an earlier vote by Wendy Alexander, head of the Scottish Labor Party, The Daily Record reported.
During Question Period in the Scottish Parliament, Alexander said uncertainty about the country's relationship with Britain could be damaging.
"I and my colleagues have therefore offered our support to bring this issue forward now. We believe that Scotland deserves a choice sooner rather than later," Alexander said. "The First Minister tells us that over 80 per cent of Scots want a referendum -- so why are we still waiting?"
A recent poll indicated that only one in five Scots favors complete independence. Most favored the current arrangement or one with a few more powers transferred to the Scottish government.
Under devolution, the Edinburgh government is responsible for most internal matters, including education, police and the legal system and healthcare. Westminster takes care of foreign affairs, the military and national finance.