Scotland releases independence timetable

Feb. 6, 2013 at 12:41 AM
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EDINBURGH, Scotland, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- If Scottish voters approve independence in an October 2014 referendum, the wish will become a fact in March 2016, the Scottish National Party said Tuesday.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon released "Scotland's Future," a timetable for independence and a detailed look at the steps needed to remove Scotland from the United Kingdom. Nationalist leaders say that based on the experience of Germany when it reunified and the Czech Republic and Slovakia when they split up the major steps needed to create a Scottish Treasury and Supreme Court and deal with EU membership can be accomplished in 17 months.

Alistair Darling, who served as press secretary to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and now leads an anti-independence group, Better Together, dismissed the timetable as a fantasy.

"Even with the best will in the world, even if there is no disagreement over some of the major issues like what happens to our currency, how we divide up our pension system and how we split the national debt, achieving this timetable is a tall order," he said.

Scotland and England have been joined at the hip since 1603 when King James VI of Scotland succeeded his cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. In 1707, the Acts of Union created a new country, Great Britain. The British Parliament must dissolve that act for Scotland to become independent.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said no date has been set for the referendum and none of the details on independence have been worked out.

But Sturgeon said a quick transition can be achieved.

"There is no reason that talks on the process required to make Scotland an independent country -- if the people of Scotland make that choice -- cannot begin now and be conducted in the same constructive and co-operative manner that would lead to a smooth transition," he said.

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