By a Newsnet reporter
The SNP has accused Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, of blundering into the referendum debate by trying to call into question the position of the monarch as head of state. Mr Rennie had claimed that it was SNP policy to hold a referendum on whether Scotland would become a republic, and cited a resolution passed at the SNP conference 15 years ago.
The SNP ridiculed Mr Rennie’s claim, pointing out that the Liberal Democrats, who are now in coalition with the Conservatives, are certainly not themselves upholding policies they adopted half a generation ago.
Mr Rennie said: “The debate over Scotland’s future has intensified in recent weeks after both the UK and Scottish Governments launched their consultations.
“Many questions on Scotland’s constitutional future have been laid at the SNP’s door, which we so far have received very little detail on. One of these questions relates to the future of the monarchy in Scotland.”
However an SNP spokesperson dismissed Mr Rennie’s intervention, pointing out that SNP policy changed after devolution was introduced in 1999. SNP policy since then has been for a referendum on a White Paper setting out the full details of an independent Scotland, including the Queen as head of state.
SNP policy is for a referendum on the status of the Treaty of Union of 1707, which created a joint parliament in Westminster for the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England. Scotland and England have shared a head of state since 1603, when the Scottish King James VI inherited the English throne from his mother’s cousin, Elizabeth I of England.
“Willie Rennie has blundered in trying to drag Her Majesty into political debate. Policies passed by the Liberal Democrat conference in 1997 certainly do not reflect the policies they are pursuing now, in cahoots with the Tories!
“Only last Sunday, former Tory Prime Minister John Major – Willie Rennie’s Westminster coalition partner – welcomed the SNP’s long-standing policy for the Queen to be head of state of an independent Scotland. With independence, we will retain the 1603 Union of the Crowns, and forge a new relationship of equality between Scotland and England.
“Since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the SNP’s policy is now for a referendum on a White Paper setting out the full details of independence – which will be published in November 2013, with the referendum taking place in autumn 2014 – and will include the SNP’s long-standing policy for the Queen and her successors to be head of state.”
Queen Elizabeth is the head of state of 16 independent states, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and a number of Caribbean nations.