Mundell adds to UK coalition disarray

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By a Newsnet reporter

Following David Mundell’s BBC interview on yesterday’s Politics Show in which he added to the mounting confusion within the coalition by refusing to agree that Scotland would be given more powers following a no vote, the SNP have welcomed growing agreement on the Autumn 2014 referendum timetable.

Mr Mundell was questioned on the programme about a suggestion by Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore that the UK government would agree to grant greater financial powers for Holyrood if voters in Scotland voted against independence.  

Mr Mundell replied: “It’s quite clear that different parties will go forward with different proposals.”

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron recently ruled out additional financial powers for Scotland within the UK, maintaining that a single tax and benefits system was the “heart” of a single country.  During the recent leadership campaign for the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson described the provisions of the discredited Scotland Bill as a “line in the sand” which would not be crossed.

However the SNP has welcomed the growing agreement within the anti-independnce parties that they will accede to the Scottish Government’s planned timing of the independence referendum.  In today’s Mail on Sunday sources close to No10 were reported as saying that David Cameron is likely to accept the referendum date.

The report also states Mr Cameron doesn’t like the proposed question.  The Mail on Sunday quotes the same sources as saying that the Prime Minister wants “something which is fairer than what is currently on the table”.

This directly contradicts the view of Scottish Tory Leader Ruth Davidson who described the referendum question as “a fair and decisive legal question, which I welcome.”

And to add to the incoherent stance of the UK coalition, Mr Mundell, in his interview with the Sunday Politics Show, didn’t disagree with Ms Davidson on the question being fair.

Stewart Maxwell, SNP MSP for West Scotland and member of the Scotland Bill Committee, said:

“The UK coalition is in total disarray. There is no coherence to their positions – particularly on what powers they think Scotland should have.

“The Scottish Government achieved an overwhelming mandate from the people of Scotland to hold the independence referendum in the second half of this parliamentary term and that is exactly what we will do.

“It is encouraging to hear Mr Cameron recognising this mandate and agreeing the Autumn 2014 date for the referendum.

“However the same report also highlights the divergent views between the Tory party north and south of the border.

“Sources in London are calling for a different question while Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has already publicly stated that it is a ‘fair, legal and decisive question’ and Scotland’s only Tory MP supports this view.  At very least Cameron’s respect agenda should extend to his party’s own Scottish leader and only Tory MP.

“Scotland’s referendum belongs to the people of Scotland whose views are currently being sought in the Your Scotland, Your Referendum consultation.

“Only yesterday seven constitutional academics voiced their opinion that the Scottish Parliament has the authority to stage an independence referendum under its existing powers.

“Sovereignty lies with the people of Scotland and it is time for the anti-independence parties to put these democratic rights at the top of their priorities.”