Scottish independence by 2016?

Leaflet on Scottish independenceThe Scottish government has drawn up a detailed paper outlining a potential transition to independence by March 2016.

To go ahead, the plans would require a 'yes' vote in a 2014 referendum on splitting from the UK government.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

The controversial paper argues that Scotland should have a written constitution "which reflects the values of the people of Scotland" and claims that - if all goes to plan - the first independent Scottish parliament elections could take place in May 2016.

Scottish ministers believe this would result in a "legal constitutional platform" comprising the division of assets and liabilities, new global connections, including with the EU, and Scotland's retention of the monarchy.

However, their preferred course of action would be for legislation to create an independent Scotland to be enacted at Holyrood, by agreement with the UK. And the prime minister David Cameron has said he will not pre-negotiate independence.

Head of the pro-Union Better Together campaign Alistair Darling has also accused the Scottish government's plans of lacking credibility.

Darling told the BBC: "What they are saying is that in less than a year you can break all the ties of the past and you can fix something entirely new.

"When you consider the currency, how you divide pensions, how we allocate debt, defence, let alone Europe, these are all issues in which the Scottish government is not going to tell us their position until the end of this year, less than 10 months before a referendum."

The Scottish Liberal Democrat party is also sceptical about the plausibility of the governing SNP's plans.

According to the Daily Telegraph, its leader Willie Rennie MSP said: "The SNP have hopelessly underestimated the scale and complexity of this.

"They would have to negotiate over 14,000 international treaties, a currency, the division of assets, membership of Nato and the host of international organisations. To say they will bang all this through in just 16 months is absurd."

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