THREE “man-made obstacles” still stand in the way of a deal being struck to stage a referendum on Scottish independence, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore will say today.
Negotiations to secure a “legal, fair and decisive” referendum have hit a logjam, he will say at The Scotsman conference, in Edinburgh.
“The Scottish people deserve a clear road to a straight choice,” he will say. He will ask why the independence-driven SNP is going to such lengths to delay the referendum, avoid a straight question and risk the whole process ending up in the courts.
“Inevitably, process is frustrating. But all the more so when there are man-made obstacles which frustrate the process,” he will say.
“The UK government position is very clear. We are seeking to facilitate a legal, fair and decisive referendum. Made in Scotland for the people of Scotland. And our aim is to do that by joint agreement with the Scottish Government. Because it is in the interests of the Scottish people that we do.
“That’s why I find the Scottish Government’s attitude perplexing. We are making an open and generous offer. The straightforward independence referendum that has been the First Minister’s mission in life.
“But it’s being met with complication, hesitation, and qualification. For whatever reasons, the Scottish Government is placing barriers on what should be a clear and straight road.”
The three barriers are the prospect of a third “devo-max” option appearing on the ballot paper, the two-and-a-half-year delay being proposed by the SNP until 2014 before the vote is held, as well as the question over Holyrood’s legal right to stage a referendum.
“These three questions – these three barriers – stand in the way of a clear resolution to this debate,” Mr Moore will say.
“Over the next few weeks, we will continue speaking to the Scottish Government. We want to work with them to deliver a democratic choice.”