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Scottish independence: UK Government unveils legal stance on SNP ambition

The UK Government has published its proposed legal case against Scottish independence posed by the ruling Scottish National Party, in a bid to keep the union together. Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom since 1707.

The SNP Scottish Government won power with a mandate to put Scottish independence to a referendum. They have previously announced that the referendum would be held in autumn 2014.

The SNP hopes that their electoral majority will concur with their wishes for independence.

However, the UK Government opposes the move, believing it would be bad for the union and bad for Scotland.

One of the crucial issues surrounding an independent Scotland is the relationship with the EU for any potential new country. The SNP was criticised last year for sitting on legal advice that appears to suggest that Scotland would leave the EU if it were to seek independence and would then have to set about accession back into the EU, a process that can take several years.

In addition to the question of EU membership, the UK Government's legal advice appears to suggest that a newly independent Scotland would need to negotiate its own membership of NATO and the IMF.

The UK Government believes that the publication of their legal advice is critical to help Scottish voters decide on such an important matter at next year's referendum.

Michael Moore is the Scottish secretary.

"It's a choice that is too important to get wrong and a choice that we must make on the basis of evidence, not assertion. To do that, we all need to be able to consider the facts," he told an audience.


Scottish independence: At-a-glance of UK government's legal case (BBC News)