Teenagers allowed to vote on Scottish independence

Scotland last voted on independence in 1979
Scotland last voted on independence in 1979

By Charles Maggs

Sixteen and 17-year-olds will be allowed to vote in the referendum on Scottish independence, after the Scottish and Westminster government's finally came to an agreement.

In exchange for lowering the voting age, Alex Salmond agreed to withdraw the 'devo-max' option from the paper, meaning it will be a plain in-or-out referendum

Some SNP members had wanted a second question, asking if people wanted more devolution if independence is turned down, but after meetings between Scottish secretary Michael Moore and deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon, this idea was scrapped.

If the third option had been included it would almost certainly have been selected by voters.

The Scottish National party (SNP) believe most younger voters are likely to vote for a break-up of the union and celebrated their inclusion in the referendum. However, these voters are also the least likely to turn up on polling day.

A statement from the Scottish government read: "Officials have now been tasked with doing some further work on the final detail of the agreement."

David Cameron and Salmond are due to meet in Edinburgh next week to finalise the terms of the vote.

Bills enabling the referendum will then be put before both the Scottish parliament and the House of Commons.

It is expected that the SNP's preferred wording of the question will be used, depending on an electoral commission assessment of its fairness.

The question will likely read, "Do you agree that Scotland should become an independent country?"

But former defence secretary Liam Fox had some harsh words for Salmond's plans for defence should a 'yes' vote prevail.

"Alex Salmond is a political opportunist not a commander-in-chief," he said.

"The SNP are looking at our armed forces as though they were at a pick ‘n’ mix counter in a sweet shop."

Salmond's party has a majority in the Scottish parliament and opposition parties had hoped to bring the vote forward. Instead it looks set to take place in the autumn of 2014.

The SNP will be hoping to cash in on patriotic feeling after the commonwealth games which will be held in Glasgow that summer.

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