Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

67% back pre-referendum settlement

Two-thirds of voters want to see a pre-referendum settlement between the UK and Scottish governments

More than two-thirds of voters believe the UK and Scottish governments should negotiate a pre-independence referendum settlement, according to a new poll.

An Electoral Commission report earlier this year recommended both sides of the debate hold talks and agree a "joint position", so that voters could see agreed information about what would follow the referendum, whether it is a Yes or No vote.

The Scottish Government have been calling for such discussions but, to date, the UK Government have rejected such talks.

A YouGov poll of 1,006 adults in Scotland found 67% supported formal negotiations between the governments, with 21% against. Supporters of all the main parties also back the talks, with 67% of Labour supporters polled, 53% of Lib Dem voters and 53% of Conservative voters all in favour. Among SNP voters polled, 88% support talks, with 8% against.

Topics to be discussed could include currency, financial regulation and the share of assets and liabilities.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the findings of the poll. She said: "This is an extremely encouraging finding - which reflects the recommendation of the Electoral Commission - and indicates that the reasonable and constructive approach the Scottish Government are taking in the referendum debate is in tune with the vast majority of people in Scotland.

"By contrast, Westminster's refusal to enter into pre-referendum discussions so that they can help inform the debate is out of touch with the people.

"Preparation is not pre-negotiation. Having discussions now to develop an understanding of the issues that would require negotiation after a Yes vote, what factual information would underpin that, and what attitude each government would take to negotiations in the event of a Yes vote, is not to pre-empt the referendum result - it is simply to ensure that if there is a Yes vote we can get to work quickly on implementing the democratic decision of the people of Scotland.

"The entire Westminster machine is focused on the referendum - producing a whole series of scare stories as part of the No campaign - and the people of Scotland clearly want some of that effort directed to constructive engagement with the government of Scotland.

"The UK government should heed public opinion in Scotland and u-turn on their current intransigent position. Pre-referendum discussions would help ensure that the debate is as informed as possible, and that is surely in the interests of people in Scotland and indeed the rest of the UK."

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