Scottish Government
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The transition to an independent Scotland

Scotland’s process of transition to an independent country following a ‘Yes’ vote in next year’s historic referendum has been outlined in a paper published today 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.

Today’s 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.

Ms Sturgeon 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 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.”

Relevant information

More information on Scotland’s referendum

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