Scotland minister sacked a year before independence vote

AFP , Monday 7 Oct 2013

Around a third of voters in Scotland are currently in favour of breaking away, according to opinion polls.

Britain's minister for Scotland was among the casualties of Prime Minister David Cameron's government reshuffle Monday, with less than a year to go before Scotland's independence referendum.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, from Cameron's junior coalition partners the Liberal Democrats, will be replaced by Alistair Carmichael, another member of the centrist party.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, said the British government needed to "draw on different experience in the final year running up to the referendum".

The government is pushing for a "no" vote in Scotland's referendum on whether to split off from the rest of the United Kingdom, which will be held on September 18 next year.

Carmichael is widely seen as more combative than Moore and his appointment was welcomed by the "no" camp.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, the Scottish National Party leader, is heading up the "yes" campaign.

Around a third of voters in Scotland are currently in favour of breaking away, according to opinion polls.

Moore is the only member of the cabinet -- comprising Cameron and his 21 most senior ministers -- to be affected by the Conservative premier's second reshuffle since he came to power in May 2010, but the shake-up has led to widespread changes at the lower levels of government.

The reshuffle began on Friday with the resignation of junior transport minister Simon Burns, followed by two other resignations by members of the government on Sunday.

It continued Monday as Cameron named the first new ministers filling vacated jobs.

Both Cameron and Clegg are seeking to freshen up their top teams ahead of a general election in May 2015.

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