Scotland’s process of transition to an independent country following a ‘Yes’ vote in next year’s historic referendum has been outlined in a new paper published by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The publication, which sets out the steps required to establish the solid constitutional platform that would give the Scottish Government elected in May 2016 the powers to build a newly independent Scotland, comes just days after the Electoral Commission called on both sides of the campaign to set out the process following the referendum.

The paper outlines a transition timetable, with independence day scheduled for March 2016, immediately ahead of the May 2016 Scottish parliament election. This is in line with international precedent – of the 30 countries around the world that have become independent since 1945 following a referendum, the average length of time between the referendum and independence day has been approximately 15 months.

The Deputy First Minister said the publication, which is the first in a series of information papers to be released ahead of the independence white paper in the autumn, was an important contribution to the debate on what will happen after the historic 2014 vote.

Ms Sturgeon also called on the UK Government to adhere to the Electoral Commission’s recommendations by agreeing to early discussions about how Scotland will move forward following the referendum, with this publication providing a solid basis for those discussions.

The publication – ‘Scotland’s Future: from the referendum to independence and a written constitution’ – sets out plans for:

  • An orderly and co-operative transition process between 2014 and 2016;
  • The constitutional platform for an independent Scotland, with independence day itself in March 2016, immediately prior to the Scottish Parliament election campaign;
  • Representatives of other parties and wider civic Scotland to be invited to join the Scottish Government in negotiating and agreeing the independence settlement;
  • A written constitution, drafted by a new constitutional convention for Scotland, involving the people of Scotland and a wide range of interests from across Scotland’s institutions and civic society.

The Deputy First Minister said:

”An independent Scotland is not an end in itself, rather it offers us an opportunity to build the kind of country we all want to see – an outward looking, prosperous and successful nation that reflects the values of fairness, enterprise and opportunity.

“Next year’s referendum will allow the people of Scotland to seize that opportunity – and a ‘Yes’ vote will give civic Scotland and our national Parliament an unprecedented opportunity to build a solid constitutional platform for our country ahead of independence day in March 2016.

“Our proposals, set out today, would see this platform put in place immediately prior to the Scottish Parliament elections, to provide the newly elected Scottish Government with the full range of powers it needs to develop the country.

“Today’s paper provides the people of Scotland with a clear road map as to how Scotland would make the journey from a devolved system of government with the levers of power retained at Westminster, to a nation in which the powers of our national Parliament are complete and in which the people are sovereign.

”The Electoral Commission has called on both sides of the independence debate to provide more information to the people of Scotland and work together to discuss what will happen in the wake of the referendum.  I agree with the Electoral Commission, which is why I have now written to the UK Government again urging them to agree to such discussions.

“The negotiations that led to the historic Edinburgh Agreement were conducted fairly, with respect and in the spirit of co-operation necessary to do the best by the people of Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“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.

“This paper is the first of a series of publications that will inform that debate, and provides the foundation for such discussions. I would urge the UK Government to heed the call of the Electoral Commission and engage on the process required following the 2014 vote.”

However the paper was attacked by pro-Union politicians, with Scottish Secretary of State Michael Moore accusing the SNP of being obsessed with process instead of concentrating on the issues.

Mr Moore said: "The Scottish government should be concentrating on the substantive issues of the independence debate, rather than endless distractions over process.

"Once again, they are devoting their energy to the picture-frame when they don't have a painting to put in it.

"We haven't even got a date for the referendum, let alone any detail on what independence would mean for people in areas like the economy, welfare, energy and financial services."

Mr Moore’s party colleague, Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie who leads the party’s group of five MSPs at Holyrood said the SNP timetable was over-optimistic.

“They would have to negotiate over 14,000 international treaties, a currency, the division of assets, membership of NATO and the host of international organisations,” he said.

“To say they will bang all this through in just 16 months is absurd. This will give most people in Scotland the shivers and fuel suspicion that the SNP are just making it up as they go along.”

However First Minister Alex Salmond said that 30 countries had already negotiated their own independence in an average period of fifteen months.

The SNP leader said: "The average timescale for these 30 countries since the Second World War is 15 months - we've actually allowed a bit longer than that in the process … If 30 other countries managed to do it, then why couldn't Scotland?"

He added: "The 'No' side seem to think we're not doing anything until November - I think they've been taken a bit by surprise by the amount of work that we've been doing.

"We're putting forward what we think is the best future for Scotland, the best way to do it. We're putting forward how the processes will unveil.

"The 'No' campaign seem to think their role is to stamp their feet and say, 'you cannae do it'. Well, yes we can."


# Mac 2013-02-05 21:32
Now that is what I expect from the SNP government. Proactive, in front and forging ahead. Let's keep up the good work and keep swatting those naysayers.
# mealer 2013-02-05 21:39
Mr Salmond thinks we're perfectly capable of concluding the transition in much the same time frame as other countries have taken.Mr Moore thinks we'll take a lot longer because we're the most useless people on earth.
# ynot 2013-02-05 23:44
Mr Moore thinks we'll take a lot longer because we're the most useless people on earth.

No, it's because he's used to how useless they are at Westminster and believes they will need longer!
# EphemeralDeception 2013-02-05 21:40
The document is a step forward and has many positive sections but having read it my feeling is: underwhelming. It is far too short and only covers the idea that we should have a constitution and the negotiation process, containing little or no detail of note. Remember the title is "Scotlands future"...

Vague elements:
-What does "remove the central effects of the 1707 Treaty of Union" mean? Post independence they still refer to the UK Gov: Big ERROR.

-Nothing is mentioned on our parliaments actions in the event of a no vote, inviting the unionists to only engage in a NO outcome.

- What is the role and powers of the proposed Supreme court and its ensured independence from Gov.

- How will we 'provide' for the monarchy? Do we keep all the titles of the many Lords and hangers on? Lets hope our constitution will ban WOMD and Lords and inherited titles.

Note:I understand the need to keep it short and high level, but I expected more.
# Jim Johnston 2013-02-06 09:31
Hi ED,
""-What does "remove the central effects of the 1707 Treaty of Union" mean? Post independence they still refer to the UK Gov: Big ERROR.""
You've lost me ED.
Until the instant the Treaty of Union is put to the sword / pen, ie the "auld sang" is belting out again, then obviously the Union of Parliaments 1707 Treaty of Union, Holyrood and Westminster are referred to.
Where is the big error ?
# EphemeralDeception 2013-02-06 10:58
1st, it should have stated an unambiguous "end the 1707 Treaty of Union".
This created the UK State as we know it.
Post Independence(20 16), they still reffer to UK Gov. IMO the Uk Parliament reverts to the English parliament, no UK Government. Point.

Since the Scot Gov still calls them the 'UK Gov' it lets them assume successor state status. The working assumption should not be this - that is the error.
It is concerning that they did not state something like, End of the treaties of Union, UK parliament reverting to English parliament + reps from Wales + NI

Also post YES vote: what happens to Scot MPs and more importantly Scottish seat Cabinet members, surely they cannot negotiate for Westminster and stay on committees negotiating with Scottish parliament? For me a YES vote changes their roles overnight.

Note: It is also a vehicle to spell out the poor consequences of a No vote. Opportunity missed!
# Barbazenzero 2013-02-06 12:12
Agreed, except that there's no need to mention Wales. Brecon, for example, was an English Parliament seat from 1542.
# Jim Johnston 2013-02-06 15:11
Still a bit lost here ED.
"Remove central effects" is that any different from "End the 1707 Union" ? The Union is the central effect, therefore remove that effect and you have ended the Union. No ?
The day after a Yes vote the Union still exists. All existing UK MP's at Westminster are still in a job because the UK exists. The "Engish Pariament" does not exist and can hardly be assumed to be a "successor state".
Lesser Britain have to form their own Independent state, that is their very own big problem that scares them to death.
Mr Moore has already stated he is "off hire" the day after a Yes vote. He's right of course. LibDem he may be but LibDumb he is not. No Scot will be allowed anywhere near the moribund Westminster negotiations team.

Finally, I'm not sure this document is the proper vehicle to tell Better Together where they are going wrong. I want BT and Westminster to be positive for once,.... and cut their own throat.

# EphemeralDeception 2013-02-06 19:34
"central effects" imo we cannot assume anything. I don't have the same interpretation as you. Maybe you are right.

The union still exists, but is then being dismantled. Could Scot MPs still vote on English matters till 2016? Will new laws also be enacted into Scots law or would we freeze everything at 2014 levels except emergency legislation?

I am saying in 2014 a 'YES' resumes the English Parliament in a practical sense even though there are still MSPs etc in it. All negociations start from a Scottish V English parliament. Not a Scot v UK parliament.

Finally, it is not me who names it the 'UK Government' after complete independence in 2016, it is the SNP in their paper. See section 2.14 of the paper. They state Scotland not part of the UK (point 5), but call the Westminster the "UK Government". (point 8).
# ds12 2013-02-05 21:49
And Willie Rennie will be suggesting that independence is impossible because most of those treaties he is talking about were drawn up by people who are long dead so thats it whats the point.
# pmcrek 2013-02-05 21:54
“They would have to negotiate over 14,000 international treaties...."

Anyone got a phone number for the Belgian Congo?
# mountain man 2013-02-05 22:11
I wouldnt hold my breath,thee only thing we will get from them is more smokescreens.Its the classic tactic when you want to disengage from the fight.
# clootie 2013-02-05 22:24 if we can't do it in this time frame. How long will it take?

Another example of - you can't, you just can't - you need someone to look after you since you are too stupid in comparison to the people of the 30 countries who have done so.

Another put down!
# govanite 2013-02-05 22:26
Driving on. Driving unionists nuts.

I particularly like this
'He added: "The 'No' side seem to think we're not doing anything until November - I think they've been taken a bit by surprise by the amount of work that we've been doing.'

# Onwards 2013-02-05 22:59
They should add a few months on to the timescale ..

A day for celebration would be better in the summer.. more suitable for outdoor concerts and fireworks !!

St Andrew's day and Burns Night are already in colder months.
# clootie 2013-02-05 23:26
# call me dave 2013-02-05 23:33
No Lamont or Ruthie on newsnight. Is there nothing that can get Lamont to give an opinion on a political tv debate.

It was just getting interesting when time was up. The SNP & Greens did ok and even Rennie was bearable.
OH! That's why it went OK civilised discussions explains the absence of Ruthie and Lamont.
# Early Ball 2013-02-06 00:02
Come now Dave she was on last night talking about taking her bairns to the swimming and on a Monday.

I note the independence day story is only rated third on the BBC Scottish Politics site. What does that tell you?
# call me dave 2013-02-06 20:48
On reflection your assessment might be closer to the truth but we have to allow our misguided opponents a bridge to come over when they see the light.

As for the army question it does become relevant when the nuts and bolts are being sorted out.

There will be many who will be pleased and proud to step across and others who will be reticent in the early stages.

Some accommodation will be made and we will have a share of the equipment I am sure.

Brewer's question about the grey areas during 2014 to 2016 is also substantive
1. EU
2. Middle East (possible war)
3. Trident lingering on
4. MP's from Scotland the left over rabble
at Westminster what will they get up

The main thing is the SG are driving the agenda and the unionists are playing catch up . It must be like herding cats on their side too many cooks and no chef in charge.
# Will C 2013-02-06 00:21
@ Dave - With all due respect, I thought that Willie Rennie's 'performance' on Newsnight Scotland tonight was 'lamentable' (if you'll forgive the pun). His squaddie comment was simply unbelievable, I do not know how Stewart Maxwell, Patrick Harvie and the Labour bod kept their faces straight. His "paperwork" comment earlier today was cringeworthy, his 'performance' tonight was toe curling. The man is a national embarrassment.
# jjmac 2013-02-06 00:24
If i was a Labour supporter i would be seriously worried about the way Johann is coming across at FMQ. I thought Iain Gray was bad but Johann is even worse.
I am sure Labour can do better than this.
We need serious debate, as it is getting close to the time for the biggest decision we will ever make.
# ButeHouse 2013-02-06 00:28
What I love about this salami slicing of information is it will ensure the Independence question is kept to the forefront of the mainstream media, not only in Scotland but all over the UK from now till the official campaign.

And it's driving the unionist nuts. Ex Chancellor Darling was blowing his top on TV today telling us how ridiculous it was to think we could disentangle Scotland from the UK in less than 3 hours or something - couldn't hear I was too busy laughing.

VOTE YES Next Year
# govanite 2013-02-06 00:34
Yes, I agree. Keep it all simmering. Draw out the debate they feared. Let the unionists feel the pain. No point in rushing this, it's too good to blow all at once and all the more effective for being slowly unveiled.
# ScotsCanuck 2013-02-06 03:16
Quoting govanite:
Yes, I agree. Keep it all simmering. Draw out the debate they feared. Let the unionists feel the pain. No point in rushing this, it's too good to blow all at once and all the more effective for being slowly unveiled.

Independance striptease ........ ......
I like it !!!!!!!!!!
# Soloman 2013-02-06 08:32
BBC Radio2 not even a mention of the Independence story!
# balbeggie 2013-02-06 10:14
If they could have put a negative spin on it they would have. I have noticed that Radio 4 only report items that would hurt the Yes camp if their spin was to believed.
# lumilumi 2013-02-06 15:20
Just read the paper, and while I think it's great that SG is taking the initiative, as it's right and proper for a SG put forth their proposals, I confess that I was a bit underwhelmed, too. The paper was a bit too vague and at places badly written.

E.g. it was hard to know whether they were refering to this SG or the future SG (which might not be a one-party SNP gov.) Too easy for anti-independists to score cheap political points like the SNP arrogantly assume they’re the next gov.

Liked the digs about EC recommendations and calls for the UK gov to adopt them, and in section 2.9 "...reinforce the reputation of Scotland and rest of the UK as places where democratic choices are respected and decisive and where constitutional change can be carried forward in a stable and orderly way." Very kind of SG to include the UK gov in their description. ;-)

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