British parties 'close to agreement' on more powers for Scotland

AFP , Friday 28 Mar 2014

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in central London March 19, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Britain's three main parties are coming closer to agreement on giving more powers to Scotland if voters reject independence, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was due to announce on Friday.

The Liberal Democrat leader said his party, their coalition partners the Conservatives, and the Labour opposition had to offer the Scottish people opportunities if they opt to stay in the United Kingdom in the September 18 referendum.

The three main UK parties are united in being firmly opposed to Scottish independence.

The campaign to break away from the rest of the UK is being led by Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, who leads the pro-independence Scottish National Party.

Clegg was to make the claim at the Scottish Lib Dem party conference in Scotland's oil capital, Aberdeen.

"Just as it is right that we must explain the risks and consequences of Scotland voting to leave the union, we must also set out the opportunities of voting to stay," he was to say, according to extracts from his speech.

"The prospect of remaining in the UK must be just as thrilling as the drama of leaving it.

"Rejecting independence will not be choosing the status quo. It must, I believe, be a giant leap towards our long-held liberal vision: home rule.

"There is now an ever-hardening consensus between the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Conservatives over greater devolution to Scotland."

The latest poll, an ICM survey of 1,010 people for last weekend's Scotland on Sunday newspaper, put the "no" to independence vote at 46 percent and the "yes" camp on 36 percent, with 15 percent undecided.

The poll also found 39 percent thought the devolved Scottish Parliament would be granted more powers following a "no" vote; 33 percent said it would keep the same responsibilities, while 13 percent said they thought Edinburgh would lose powers.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is the leader of the Conservatives, has also raised the prospect of greater devolution, especially in tax policy.

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