Scotland politics

Scottish independence 'could come by 2016'

Image caption The Scottish education secretary said independence could be achieved before elections in 2016

A senior Scottish government minister has said independence for Scotland could be negotiated in a "single year" following the 2014 referendum.

Education Secretary Mike Russell made the comments in an interview for BBC Parliament.

He predicted it would not take much more than 12 months for an agreement to be reached.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Secretary is set to issue a call for clarity over taxes in an independent Scotland.

Speaking to the BBC, the SNP's Mr Russell said the "moment" of independence could arrive in time for the Scottish elections in May 2016.

'First election'

In the event of a "yes" vote in the referendum, talks between the Scottish and UK government are expected on the mechanism by which power is transferred.

Mr Russell said: "Once the people of Scotland have said yes, we want to do this - if that's what they said in the autumn of 2014, then clearly you will have a period of time of detailed negotiation.

"Examples in the rest of the world indicate this, and I can't imagine it would take much more than a single year to do.

"I think that the first minister has indicated he thinks that the first election for an independent Scottish parliament would take place in May 2016."

It had previously been suggested that negotiations following a referendum could be lengthy but Mr Russell cautioned against looking at independence as something which will happen on a particular date.

He added: "Independence is a process not just an event."

'Tough choices'

Elsewhere, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore will tell the Scottish Council for Development and Industry conference in St Andrews that the debate on independence is "real and urgent".

Mr Moore wants to know what tax rates would be, how much would be spent on public services, and who would regulate the banks.

In his speech he will say: "Those who support separation move seamlessly from economic model to economic model, alighting on any system that seems to suit, then floating on to the next when it becomes expedient to do so."

Mr Moore warns that the Scottish economy is very different from the Scandinavian model, and "tough choices" would have to be made if it was to be adopted.

He will tell the conference: "Take tax. Right now, the UK government takes in just over 37% of our country's wealth in tax.

"In Norway, in 2009, the government took in 41.4%, in Sweden it was just under 47%, and in Denmark it stood at a fairly substantial 48.1% - more than 10 percentage points higher than the UK.

"That's the equivalent of more than £2,500 in tax for every man, woman and child in Scotland. Is that what the Scottish government proposes?"

The interview with Mike Russell will be broadcast in The Record Review at 23:00 on Friday, on BBC Parliament.

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