Sturgeon: We’re working with Westminster on post-referendum settlement


   By a Newsnet reporter

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has told a Holyrood committee that the Scottish Goverment is in talks with Westminster to reach an agreement on a joint statement on what will occur after the independence referendum.

Speaking to Holyrood’s Referendum Bill Committee, Ms Sturgeon said that talks were on-going following the recommendation of the Electoral Commission that both governments should agree a “joint position” before the referendum “so that voters have access to agreed information about what would follow the referendum”, whether it is a Yes or a No.

Ms Sturgeon said:

“There are discussions ongoing between my officials and counterparts in the UK Government about what a statement of that nature might look like.

“I thought the Electoral Commission’s recommendation in that regard was sensible.

“I think that just as we were right to accept their recommendations on spending and the wording of the question, I think there’s a duty on both governments to accept the recommendation in this regard.

“Those discussions have not concluded. I’d be happy to report back to the committee when those discussions reach their conclusion.”

However despite repeated requests from the Scottish Government, a series of prominent UK Government ministers have previously rebuffed attempts by Holyrood to engage in talks about what would happen after the referendum. 

Scotland Secretary Michael Moore, and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander have both stated previously that the UK Government would not “pre-negotiate” Scottish independence. 

In January this year Mr Alexander said:

“We have been clear we will not ‘pre- negotiate’ the terms of independence before people in Scotland have had their say in the referendum.  To do so would require the Government to act on behalf of only part of the UK.”

Ms Sturgeon’s comments to the Referendum Bill Committee today suggest that the UK Government has indeed been engaging in talks with the Scottish Government, but for whatever reason Mr Moore and Mr Alexander were either unaware that talks were taking place, or have decided to deny their existence.