POLITICS

Alex Salmond To Set Scottish Independence Referendum Date In Holyrood Speech

21/03/2013 11:12 GMT

Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, will announce the date for the country's independence referendum on Thursday, in a speech in Holyrood.

The Scottish parliament will also be publishing its draft referendum bill, the legislation needed to hold the crucial vote.

Scottish deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, told the BBC: "Everybody in Scotland, no matter what side of the debate they are on, will recognise this as a key milestone on the road to the referendum.

"The day of the referendum will be confirmed, when we can decide to take our own future into our own hands to vote for independence and the powers we need to build a fairer, more prosperous country that we all want to see."

Although the exact date has yet to be set there has been speculation over whether it could coincide with significant events such as the Commonwealth games or the anniversary of Bannockburn when patriotism would be high.

There has been much deliberation over recent months the phrasing of the question used in the referendum.

After accusations that Salmond was trying to introduce loaded terms a simple "Should Scotland become an independent country?" will be used.

The issue of independence has consumed Scottish politics since the Scottish National Party (SNP) took power almost two years ago.

Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, has accused Salmond of being "dishonest" about independence at the expense of "every Scottish family".

In Westminster, David Cameron has staunchly defended the union saying Scotland would be "better off in Britain".

Vital questions still remain on the technicalities of an independent Scotland.

Issues such as North Sea gas and oil, defence, intelligence sharing and the Trident nuclear deterrent which is based in Scotland still remain largely unresolved.

Another major continuing issue is an independent Scotland's relationship with international institutions such as the EU.