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Scottish independence: From oil and the pound to the Queen and tax - everything you need to know about the referendum

Everything you need to know ahead of September 18

By Chris Green, Nigel Morris, Jonathan Brown and James Cusick

Published 16/09/2014

First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond during a press conference at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh after the countru vote No. Pic Danny Lawson/PA Wire
First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond during a press conference at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh after the countru vote No. Pic Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond holds the agreement between the UK Government and the Scottish Government to hold a referendum on independence for Scotland
Better Together campaigners celebrate early poll results at a party on September 19, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
People view results in Scottish Independence Referendum placed on a wall at the Ingleston Hall on September 19, 2014 in Edinburgh,Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Tellers struggle with tiredness during the count for votes in the Scottish Independence Referendum at Ingleston Hall on September 19, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Supporters at a "Yes" rally in George Square react on September 19, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Supporters at a "Yes" rally in George Square react on September 19, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Supporters at a "Yes" rally in George Square react on September 19, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Supporters at a "Yes" rally in George Square react on September 19, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Better Together campaigners celebrate early poll results at a party on September 19, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Supporters attend the Better Together Referendum Night event wait for the results to come in on September 19, 2014 at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
"Yes" Supporters burn flares as they react to the polls closing in George Square as Scotland awaits the results of the Scottish Independence referendum vote on September 18, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Supporters at a "Yes" rally in George Square react on September 19, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Tellers count votes in the Scottish Independence Referendum at the Edinburgh count at Ingleston Hall on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A supporter dressed as Scottish cult TV character Rab C Nesbett plays to the crowd at a "Yes" rally in George Square on September 19, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
People wait for the result outside the Scottish Parliament as voting in the referendum closes on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Ballot boxes for the Scottish Independence Referendum arrive at the Edinburgh count at Ingleston Hall on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
People wait for the result outside the Scottish Parliament as voting in the referendum closes on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Ballot boxes arrive at the Scottish Independence Referendum at the Edinburgh count at Ingleston Hall on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Two young girls join the crowds waiting for a result outside the Scottish Parliament as voting in the referendum continues on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People wait for a result outside the Scottish Parliament as voting in the referendum continues on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People wait for a result outside the Scottish Parliament as voting in the referendum continues on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A young girl has her photograph taken as people wait for a result outside the Scottish Parliament as voting in the referendum continues on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Former Gordon Highlander, Jock Robertson, aged 81, who said 'I have waited all my life for this vote' pauses at Peebles polling station after voting in the Scottish referendum on September 18, 2014 in Peebles, Scotland. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
People wait for a result outside the Scottish Parliament as voting in the referendum continues on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People wait for a result outside the Scottish Parliament as voting in the referendum continues on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Royalist John Loughrey (L) from England poses for a photograph outside Lothian Chambers in central Edinburgh as millions vote in the Scottish referendum. Pic Matt Cardy/Getty Images
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Felipe Perez walks out of polling station at Notre Dame primary school with a Saltire flag, on September 18, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a 'Yes' vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond outside his home in Strichen during a historic day for Scotland as voters determine whether the country should remain part of the United Kingdom. Danny Lawson/PA Wire
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Newspaper flyers pose the 'Yes or No' question during the Scottish referendum on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a 'Yes' vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
LONDON, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: (EDITORS NOTE: THIS IS A PHOTO ILLUSTRATION) A selection of the British National Newspaper front pages are displayed on September 18, 2014 in London, England. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Members of the public walk out of a polling station at Notre Dame primary school following casting their vote in the Scottish independence referendum on September 18, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Members of the public walk out of a polling station at Notre Dame primary school following casting their vote in the Scottish independence referendum on September 18, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Felipe Perez walks out of polling station at Notre Dame primary school with a Saltire flag, on September 18, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a 'Yes' vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: A dog is tied to a railing outside a polling station at Notre Dame primary school on September 18, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Political graffiti is seen close to Lothian Chambers polling station in central Edinburgh on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Sara Tardio, Marc Arranz, Marc Teixidor and Clara de Pablo from Catalonia pose for a photograph as they show their support for the Yes vote in central Edinburgh on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: (L-R) Angela Simpson, Niamh Cupples, Ava Cupples (buggy), Linda Cupples and Calum Cupples leave St Bartholomew's Primary School in Castlemilk after casting their vote as the people of Scotland take to the poles to decide their country's fate in a historic vote on September 18, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: "Yes" Campaigner Paula Fummey talk to a voter at St Bartholomew's Primary School in Castlemilk as the people of Scotland take to the poles to decide their country's fate in a historic vote on September 18, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: "Yes" activists campaigning in Castlemilk today as the people of Scotland take to the poles to decide their country's fate in a historic vote on September 18, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a 'Yes' vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union.(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
ELLON, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: First Minister Alex Salmond (R) relaxes with an aide on referendum day on September 18, 2014 in Ellon, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a 'Yes' vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
ELLON, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: First Minister Alex Salmond relaxes with a cup of tea at a hotel during a break on referendum day on September 18, 2014 in Ellon, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a 'Yes' vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: A Yes sticker is seen on the statue of Adam Smith on the Royal Mile on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: James Fraser holds up his voting card having just voted at Lothian Chambers polling station in central Edinburgh on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: James Fraser leaves Lothian Chambers polling station having just voted in central Edinburgh on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
TURRIFF, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: First Minister Alex Salmond walks to meet with supporters on September 18, 2014 in Turriff, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
TURRIFF, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: German Short Haired Pointer dogs Dude (L) and Hector wait to meet First Minister Alex Salmond on September 18, 2014 in Turriff, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
TURRIFF, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: German Short Haired Pointer dogs Dude (L) and Hector wait to meet First Minister Alex Salmond on September 18, 2014 in Turriff, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Yes and No supporters react to motorists passing the Church Hill Theatre polling place in Morningside on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a 'Yes' vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
German Short Haired Pointer dogs Dude and Hector (R) meet First Minister Alex Salmond on September 18, 2014 in Turriff, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country.
Voters at Notre Dame Primary School polling station on September 18, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country.
Painters paint over Yes graffiti at Jamestown Parish Church Lennox Hall on September 18, 2014 in Jamestown, Scotland.
Voters leave Gretna polling station after voting on September 18, 2014 in Gretna, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a 'Yes' vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Voters at Notre Dame Primary School polling station on September 18, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. After many months of campaigning the people of Scotland today head to the polls to decide the fate of their country. The referendum is too close to call but a Yes vote would see the break-up of the United Kingdom and Scotland would stand as an independent country for the first time since the formation of the Union. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
A re-interpretation and re-design of the Union Flag flying on Lonsdale Road, north London on the day of the Scottish independence referendum as part of the London Design Festival.
Yes voter Duncan Thomson waits for the doors to open at St Martins Church hall polling station, as the people of Scotland take to the poles to decide whether Scotland should become an independent country, on September 18, 2014 in Renton, Scotland. After many months of campaigning, final opinion poles show the referendum result is still too close to call. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
A young voter at Ritchie Hall polling station in Strichen, as Scotland goes to the polls to vote in the Scottish independence referendum. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 18, 2014. See PA story REFERENDUM Main. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
A young voter at Ritchie Hall polling station in Strichen, as Scotland goes to the polls to vote in the Scottish independence referendum.
Millions will go to the polls on Thursday to decide Yes or No to Scottish independence (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LOCH LOMOND, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Duncan Thomson, Brian McCutcheon, John Patterson and Arthur Murdoch,from King of Scots Robert the Bruce Society, hold the Scottish flags as they prepare to vote in the Scottish independence referendum on September 14, 2014 in Loch Lomond. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Better Together campaign leader Alistair Darling during a campaign event at Clydebank Town Hall in Scotland as the campaign ahead of the Scottish independence referendum enters its final days. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday September 16, 2014. See PA story REFERENDUM Main. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
A Saltire with Yes printed on it in Dunbar, Scotland, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown leaves a campaign event at Clydebank Town Hall in Scotland as the campaign ahead of the Scottish independence referendum enters its final days.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon watching apprentice Craig McKee manufacturing a steel 'Yes' sign at Steel Engineering in Renfrew, Scotland ahead of the Scottish independence referendum on Thursday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday September 16, 2014.
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Volunteers from the Yes campaign speak with a voters in the Pilton area of Edinburgh on September 16, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Yes and No supporters are campaigning in the last two days of the referendum to decide if Scotland will become an independent country. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Volunteers from the Yes campaign prepare to go and canvass in the Pilton area of Edinburgh on September 16, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Yes and No supporters are campaigning in the last two days of the referendum to decide if Scotland will become an independent country. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Yes posters are seen in windows in a block of flats in Edinburgh on September 16, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Yes and No supporters are campaigning in the last two days of the referendum to decide if Scotland will become an independent country. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
RENFREW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: A general view as Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, meets with care workers at Renfrew Town hall on September 16, 2014 in Renfrew, Scotland. With just two days of campaigning left before polling stations open and voters across the country will hold Scotlands future in their hands. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown (R) appears with campaign leader Alistair Darling at a rally of No supporters at Dumbarton Town Hall on September 16, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Yes and No supporters are campaigning in the last two days of the referendum to decide if Scotland will become an indpendent country. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown pauses as he speaks at Dumbarton Town hall to No campaigners on September 16, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Yes and No supporters are campaigning in the last two days of the referendum to decide if Scotland will become an indpendent country. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks at Dumbarton Town hall to No campaigners on September 16, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Yes and No supporters are campaigning in the last two days of the referendum to decide if Scotland will become an indpendent country. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
RENFREW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets with campaigners at Renfrew Town hall on September 16, 2014 in Renfrew, Scotland. With just two days of campaigning left before polling stations open and voters across the country will hold Scotlands future in their hands. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RENFREW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets with campaigners at Renfrew Town hall on September 16, 2014 in Renfrew, Scotland. With just two days of campaigning left before polling stations open and voters across the country will hold Scotlands future in their hands. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RENFREW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets with campaigners at Renfrew Town hall on September 16, 2014 in Renfrew, Scotland. With just two days of campaigning left before polling stations open and voters across the country will hold Scotlands future in their hands. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RENFREW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, eats a yes cake during a vist to meet with care workers at Renfrew Town hall on September 16, 2014 in Renfrew, Scotland. With just two days of campaigning left before polling stations open and voters across the country will hold Scotlands future in their hands. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrives at Dumbarton Town hall to speak to No campaigners on September 16, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Yes and No supporters are campaigning in the last two days of the referendum to decide if Scotland will become an indpendent country. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
RENFREW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Cabinet Secretary for Finance John Swinney, look on as 19 year old apprentice fabricator Craig McKee angle grinds a yes sign during their visit to Steel Engineering on September 16, 2014 in Renfrew, Scotland. With just two days of campaigning left before polling stations open and voters across the country will hold Scotlands future in their hands. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
RENFREW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Cabinet Secretary for Finance John Swinney, look on as 19 year old apprentice fabricator Craig McKee holds a yes sign during their visit to Steel Engineering on September 16, 2014 in Renfrew, Scotland. With just two days of campaigning left before polling stations open and voters across the country will hold Scotlands future in their hands. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Volunteers for the Better Together campaign have a meeting before leaving to canvass from their Edinburgh office on September 15, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. With the campaigning for the independence referendum entering into the final few days, the latest opinion polls have suggested the outcome of the vote is still too close to call. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: People pass the Better Together Edinburgh office on September 15, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. With the campaigning for the independence referendum entering into the final few days, the latest opinion polls have suggested the outcome of the vote is still too close to call. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
KILMARNOCK, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Alistair Darling leader of the Better Together and Margaret Curran meets with members of the public during a walk about on September 15, 2014 in Kilmarnock, Scotland. With just three days of campaigning left, First Minister Alex Salmond is meeting business people in Edinburgh and Prime Minister David Cameron is due to visit Scotland today ahead of Thursday's independence vote. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Prime Minister David Cameron addresses members of the No campaign on September 15, 2014 in Aberdeen,Scotland. The latest polls in Scotland's independence referendum put the No campaign back in the lead, the first time they have gained ground on the Yes campaign since the start of August. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
KILMARNOCK, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: No supporters join, Alistair Darling leader of the Better Together meets with members of the public during a walk about on September 15, 2014 in Kilmarnock, Scotland. With just three days of campaigning left, First Minister Alex Salmond is meeting business people in Edinburgh and Prime Minister David Cameron is due to visit Scotland today ahead of Thursday's independence vote. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KILMARNOCK, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Yes and No supporters exchange words during, as Alistair Darling leader of the Better Together meets with members of the public during a walk about on September 15, 2014 in Kilmarnock, Scotland. With just three days of campaigning left, First Minister Alex Salmond is meeting business people in Edinburgh and Prime Minister David Cameron is due to visit Scotland today ahead of Thursday's independence vote.. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: First Minister Alex Salmond speaks with the media at Edinburgh International Airport following a photocall in the arrival's hall on September 15, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. With the campaigning for the independence referendum entering into the final few days, the latest opinion polls have suggested the outcome of the vote is still too close to call. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: First Minister Alex Salmond leaves Edinburgh International Airport following a photocall in the arrival's hall on September 15, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. With the campaigning for the independence referendum entering into the final few days, the latest opinion polls have suggested the outcome of the vote is still too close to call. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: First Minister Alex Salmond leaves Edinburgh International Airport following a photocall in the arrival's hall on September 15, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. With the campaigning for the independence referendum entering into the final few days, the latest opinion polls have suggested the outcome of the vote is still too close to call. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: A yes campaigner stands by his branded van on September 15, 2014 in Aberdeen,Scotland. The latest polls in Scotland's independence referendum put the No campaign back in the lead, the first time they have gained ground on the Yes campaign since the start of August. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: BBC TV political editor Nick Robinson (R) interviews a No campaigner near Union Street on September 15, 2014 in Aberdeen,Scotland. The latest polls in Scotland's independence referendum put the No campaign back in the lead, the first time they have gained ground on the Yes campaign since the start of August. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: A yes campaigner passes a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) on September 15, 2014 in Aberdeen,Scotland. The latest polls in Scotland's independence referendum put the No campaign back in the lead, the first time they have gained ground on the Yes campaign since the start of August. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: A yes campaigners daughter gets caught up in a Saltire flag on September 15, 2014 in Aberdeen,Scotland. The latest polls in Scotland's independence referendum put the No campaign back in the lead, the first time they have gained ground on the Yes campaign since the start of August. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: First Minister Alex Salmond arrives at Edinburgh Airport for a photocall on September 15, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. With the campaigning for the independence referendum entering into the final few days, the latest opinion polls have suggested the outcome of the vote is still too close to call. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Tariq Ali, addresses radical independence supporters, calling for a resounding Yes vote on September 15, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. With just three days of campaigning left, First Minister Alex Salmond is meeting business people in Edinburgh and Prime Minister David Cameron is due to visit Scotland today ahead of Thursday's independence vote. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: People listen as Sir Bob Geldof speaks to members of the public and supporters of the 'Better Together' campaign from a raised stage in Trafalgar Square on September 15, 2014 in London, England. The latest polls in Scotland's independence referendum put the No campaign back in the lead, the first time they have gained ground on the Yes campaign since the start of August. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: People wave flags as Sir Bob Geldof speaks to members of the public and supporters of the 'Better Together' campaign from a raised stage in Trafalgar Square on September 15, 2014 in London, England. The latest polls in Scotland's independence referendum put the No campaign back in the lead, the first time they have gained ground on the Yes campaign since the start of August. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Sir Bob Geldof speaks to members of the public and supporters of the 'Better Together' campaign from a raised stage in Trafalgar Square on September 15, 2014 in London, England. The latest polls in Scotland's independence referendum put the No campaign back in the lead, the first time they have gained ground on the Yes campaign since the start of August. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: People wave flags as Sir Bob Geldof speaks to members of the public and supporters of the 'Better Together' campaign from a raised stage in Trafalgar Square on September 15, 2014 in London, England. The latest polls in Scotland's independence referendum put the No campaign back in the lead, the first time they have gained ground on the Yes campaign since the start of August. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

As a nation prepares to vote, some issues are still high on the agenda. We take a look at what voters want to know – and where each side stands.

Currency

YES: Alex Salmond was mocked by Alistair Darling in their first debate for having “no plan B” if an independent Scotland could not share the pound. The second time they faced each other the First Minister insisted he believed Scotland could use sterling, but said he had three plan Bs – a currency fixed to the pound, unilateral use of sterling or its own currency. A poll this month suggested Mr Salmond may have taken the sting out of the issue, with 51 per cent of Scots saying they thought anti-independence politicians were bluffing when they said England would not allow a currency union.

North Sea oil reserves are one of the key referendum issues
North Sea oil reserves are one of the key referendum issues
Would there be border controls in the event of a Yes vote?
Would there be border controls in the event of a Yes vote?

NO: Better Together has sought to make uncertainty over a breakaway Scotland’s currency its central argument against independence. Alistair Darling deployed this message successfully in the first televised clash with Alex Salmond, but faced groans when he returned to it in the second debate. George Osborne has declared that Scotland would not be allowed to share the pound, backed by Labour and the Lib Dems. Last week the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, said currency union in the event of independence would be “incompatible with sovereignty”.

 

Oil

YES: The nationalists insist an independent Scotland would not be over-reliant on oil. They believe the UK Government has squandered most of the North Sea oil revenues by failing to establish a fund for the money to be invested. Under independence, they say, such a fund would be created. This would also help to get around the problem of oil’s volatility from year to year. To win over the industry, Scotland’s Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, recently hinted that oil and gas firms could benefit from new tax breaks if Scotland became independent.

NO: The Better Together campaign has argued that relying too heavily on North Sea oil would be dangerous as it is such a volatile commodity. Under independence, they say, Scotland would have to draw on oil revenues to fund public spending – so if the amount raised suddenly fell, services could suffer. They also argue that there might not be as much oil under the North Sea as the Scottish Government is expecting, pointing to statements made by an oil industry expert, Sir Ian Wood, who warned last month that they may have overestimated the amount by up to 60 per cent.

Economy and jobs

YES: In the 2013 Referendum White Paper, Alex Salmond said independence would make Scotland better off. “We know we have the people, the skills and resources to make Scotland a more successful country,” he said. The Yes campaign has quoted studies claiming the economy has underperformed as a result of Westminster policies. The Scottish Government has sought to highlight the success of food, whisky and tourism. Nationalists dismissed warnings of job losses from banks relocating their HQs to England, claiming it would simply be a case of moving a brass plate.

NO: The UK Treasury warned in 2013 that the Scottish banking industry was too big to be bailed out in a crisis. With assets worth more than 12 times the country’s GDP, it said each taxpayer would face liabilities of £65,000 in the event of a collapse. The No campaign then sought to capitalise on the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond’s prediction of 12,000 military-related job losses and billions of pounds of missed contracts if Scotland went it alone. The issue has remained at the centre of the debate, culminating in the assertion this week by RBS that it would relocate its HQ to London.

Immigration

YES: Pro-independence campaigners have derided warnings about border controls as scaremongering and insist Scotland would remain part of the common travel area covering the UK and Ireland because of “our shared history, culture and borders”. Alex Salmond said an independent Scotland would need to increase net annual immigration to around 24,000 to maintain public spending. He argued that represented only a slight rise in current levels, possibly mindful of Ukip’s achievement in gaining a Scottish Euro-MP and a survey that found most Scots backed Ukip’s stance on immigration.

NO: The Home Secretary, Theresa May, suggested border controls with England may be introduced if Scotland votes Yes. She argued independence could lead to Scotland joining the European Schengen common travel area which the UK has not signed up to. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, was quoted as saying the idea of border checks “would have to be looked at”. However, Better Together has shied away from raising immigration, perhaps for fear of accusations of playing the race card or because of the pro-Union parties’ differing instincts on the issue.

Defence and Trident

YES: Nationalists believe they are on to a winner in left-leaning Scotland with their pledge to remove Trident within five years of independence. Alex Salmond argued last week that Scotland “doesn’t need the largest and most expensive arsenal of nuclear weapons in Europe [for it] to be influential” and suggested the Trident billions would be better spent on childcare. In campaigning in the west of Scotland, the Yes camp has tried to allay fears over jobs at the Faslane nuclear base by stressing that the new Scottish Defence Force would be based on the site.

NO: Better Together has argued a Yes vote would risk Scots’ safety in a volatile world and threaten tens of thousands of jobs in defence. But it has been conscious of the hostility among many Scots to nuclear weapons, so has relied on outside experts and UK-based politicians to do the heavy pounding on defence, notably the importance of maintaining Trident. Sir David Omand, the former head of GCHQ, attacked the SNP’s proposals as “fundamentally flawed”, while a former Nato chief, General Sir Richard Shirreff, ridiculed them as “amateurish and unrealistic”.

The monarchy

YES: The Queen would remain head of state in Scotland,  just as in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Alex Salmond, who held a private audience with the Queen at Balmoral Castle several weeks ago, said that while  she would not want to enter the referendum debate  herself, she would be “proud to be Queen of Scots”. The Scottish Government’s White Paper on an independent Scotland points out that the Union of the Crowns dates back to 1603, pre-dating the Union of the Parliaments  by more than a century.

NO: Although in the short term the Queen’s role in Scotland would not change, supporters of the Union say her position would be far less secure. They point to remarks by Dennis Canavan, chairman of the Yes campaign, who said last  year that a national referendum should be held on who should be head of state in the event of independence. Last week, reports surfaced that the Queen was concerned about the prospect of the Union breaking up, but Buckingham Palace has categorically insisted that she is totally neutral  on the subject, although she did comment yesterday

How would healthcare operate in an independent Scotland?
How would healthcare operate in an independent Scotland?

NHS

YES: Nationalists warned that failure to achieve full independence could jeopardise popular policies such as free personal care. The White Paper promised cross-border treatment would continue while reassuring people that there would be no prospect of following the reform path taken by London. In May this year more than 100 health professionals formed NHS for Yes, claiming the service was at risk of future cuts by Westminster. Alex Salmond said the Scottish NHS was threatened with “privatisation and fragmentation” by Coalition policies.

NO: Even before the launch of the campaign, opponents of independence pointed out that Scotland has always had operational control of its own NHS. In 1999 further responsibility for healthcare was enshrined in law and devolved to the Scottish Parliament, allowing Edinburgh to set its own policies and priorities including abolition of prescription charges. In May a campaign warning Scots they would no longer be able to access children’s services at Great Ormond Street backfired when the hospital in London asked for the ads to be withdrawn.

Welfare and pensions

YES: Welfare in Scotland is still controlled by Westminster, a state of affairs the nationalists say is unfair, pointing to the fact that around 90 per cent of Scottish MPs voted against the so-called “bedroom tax”. Under independence, they have promised that the deeply unpopular levy would be abolished, while the rollout of other troubled reforms such as universal credit and personal independence payments would be halted. Pensions which have already been accrued will be honoured according to the SNP, who have claimed state and public sector pensions will be paid as before.

NO: The Better Together campaign has claimed an independent Scotland would face deep spending cuts which would place a strain on welfare budgets, arguing that the nationalists’ sums do not add up. The three main Westminster parties unveiled plans last week to fast-track new welfare powers for the Scottish Parliament if the country votes No. The proposals, which include the possible devolution of control over housing benefit, the work programme and other taxes,  would be agreed by late January and ready for the House of Commons to vote on after next year’s general election.

Tax

YES: The Scottish Government has said there are no plans for tax increases after a Yes vote, claiming it could raise £250m a year or more by simplifying tax and making it harder to avoid. But the chairman of Yes Scotland, Dennis Canavan, has hinted at a system which would mean the wealthy would pay more than those less well off. It is hoped a proposed  3 per cent cut in corporation tax would attract big businesses (and jobs) to Scotland, while another cut in air passenger duty would encourage more travellers to use the country’s airports and turn the larger ones into “hub” destinations.

NO: Better Together has pointed to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggesting that from 2016, an independent Scotland’s public finances would face a bigger deficit than the UK’s. It argues this would leave a £6bn hole in public spending which could only be plugged by big tax increases. Under proposals unveiled by the Westminster party leaders last week in the event of a No vote, the Scottish Government would get far greater powers to influence income tax. The plans also include the potential devolution of control over other taxes such as air passenger duty or capital gains.

European Union buildings in Brussels
European Union buildings in Brussels

The EU

YES: Alex Salmond accused the “Westminster elite” of jeopardising Scotland’s EU future. Mr Salmond remains confident Scotland will successfully negotiate a “continuing” membership of the EU in the 18-month window between now and the date set for independence in 2016. In other words Scotland would not technically leave the EU. The threat of a future Tory-led UK government holding a referendum on the EU means the Yes campaign has portrayed independence as Scotland’s only “guarantee” of remaining part of the EU.

NO: Legal advice taken by the Government claims an 18-month negotiating window is “unrealistic”. The possibility that Scotland would trail the pound would prove a barrier to continuing membership. The claim is “No functioning central bank, no EU”. Allowing Scotland to be handed fast-track membership without evidence of the usual convergent economic requirements would be unprecedented. There are fears that separatist movements in Spanish regions and elsewhere will mean national vetoes being brandished and Scotland having to wait in line.

Trade and business

YES: Nationalists always knew they would face an assault from big business and got their retaliation in early. Business for Scotland was launched in March 2013 and now boasts a membership of 2,500 business people. Like its rivals, it has rolled out declarations of support, with 200 executives coming out for independence in August followed by another 100 last week. Business for Scotland says its supporters are drawn from a representative mixture of employers across Scotland. Alex Salmond has accused David Cameron of orchestrating “scaremongering” by major companies.

NO: It has been a key aim of pro-Union campaigners to rally business chiefs to warn of the perils of independence. After initial reluctance, and as the polls narrowed dramatically, they began to line up to argue against the break-up of the United Kingdom. Big names raising fears about the impact of independence in recent days have included the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Standard Life, BP and Kingfisher. John Lewis added the warning to consumers that prices could be higher in a separate Scotland than  in England.

The BBC and culture

YES: At the launch of the independence White Paper, Alex Salmond offered assurances that Scotland would still have access to all the BBC programming. A new Scottish Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) would be created as a state broadcaster, and the BBC’s Scottish staff could form part of that new organisation. In line with other no-change assurances, funding for the new SBC would be similar to the BBC’s licence fee. The same assurances have been given on other national arts organisations, already branded with a Scottish identity, such as Scottish Ballet.

NO: Alex Salmond’s belief that an SBC and the BBC would swap programming was described as “make believe” by the former Director General of the BBC, John Birt. But Mr Salmond insists “common sense” and mutual benefit over broadcasting and arts will break out after a Yes vote. Some BBC executives in Scotland worry about their future, saying STV, the main commercial broadcaster in Scotland, could be handed the role currently occupied by BBC Scotland. Economists have warned that an independent Scotland’s TV licence was likely to be triple the current UK fee.

Source: Independent

Scottish Independence Vote further reading

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