‘Get on with it’, Scottish sec tells Salmond

By Oliver Hotham

An independence referendum could take place as soon as September 2013, Scottish secretary Michael Moore has said.

London is piling pressure on Edinburgh to hold the Scottish independence referendum 'sooner rather than later'.

Mr Moore told the Scottish affairs committee there is no need for the Scottish people to wait almost three years for the vote. He believes it could happen in September 2013 instead of the SNP's proposed autumn 2014 date.

Mr Moore said he wanted to see the Scottish government resolve the question as quickly as possible.

"No one has yet explained to me why the people of Scotland should have to wait nearly three years to make the most important decision we will ever make," the secretary of state said in a statement.

"It is not in the interests of the Scottish people to build up uncertainty and make them wait.

"The timetable the Scottish government have set out has heel dragging built into it. There are months and months set aside for straight forward tasks."

He said the SNP has a great deal of questions to answer to the Scottish people over what an independent Scotland would do about defence jobs, their share of the debt, and EU fishing quotas.

The question of having two questions on the referendum ballot was rejected, with Mr Moore stating that the question of independence had to be resolved before 'devolution max' could be considered.

The SNP has asked for the referendum to be held in autumn 2014 in ongoing negotiations between the Scottish first minister Alex Salmond and Mr Moore.

The nationalists argue that the resolution of constitutional matters will take until autumn 2014.

Mr Salmond and Mr Moore have also clashed over the issue of the referendum question, with both sides fearing the question will be slanted towards their opponent.

Mr Moore today told the committee there are "many unanswered questions", and argued that "many people want to challenge the SNP on what independence will look like".