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Scots to hear how nation could go it alone

Pro-independence SNP leader to launch manifesto on how Scotland could leave UK, ahead of poll on ending 300-year union.

Last updated: 25 Nov 2013 22:52
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The SNP leader, Alex Salmond, has long promised a debate on independence [GETTY]

Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, will unveil his blueprint for independence on Tuesday in a long-awaited document he insists will pave the way for the end of the United Kingdom.
 
Salmond is set to deliver a White Paper in Glasgow outlining his government's vision for an independent Scottish nation.
 
Described by the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) as a "landmark document", the 670-page publication is expected to set forth the economic, social and democratic case for leaving Great Britain.

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The deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said: "Our message to the people of Scotland is simple: read it, compare it with any alternative future for Scotland and make up your own mind."
 
The paper is also likely to address contentious issues including which currency the country would adopt, as well as how a military would be created and whether Scotland would remain part of the European Union.
 
Voters will go to the polls next September in a referendum that could see the end of a union that has lasted more than three centuries.
 
Salmond and his deputy will front the launch of the paper, which they liken to a "prospectus for an independent Scotland", at the Glasgow Science Centre on Tuesday morning.
 
Its publication is being viewed by political commentators as a defining moment in what has been a bitter campaign between the pro-independence "Yes" campaign, and its "Better Together" rival.
 
The economy has taken centre stage in the debate, with critics claiming Scotland would be left with a multi-billion-dollar black hole in its public finances as a result of leaving the union.
 
Last month, the London-based Institute of Fiscal Studies said an independent Scotland would start life £90 billion ($145 billion) in the red as it would inherit its historic share of UK national debt.
 
There is also uncertainty over currency. The Scottish parliament insists it would continue with Sterling, but the British government has warned it would veto any attempt.
 
The White Paper is expected to state Scotland would take advantage of its tourism, manufacturing and vast natural resources - including wind and wave power as well as North Sea oil - twinned with business tax incentives to boost economic growth.
 
Opinion polls have so far suggested Salmond will lose the referendum, with support for remaining in the UK standing at about 47 percent.
 
But Henry McLeish, who served as first minister between 2000 and 2001, said the publication of the White Paper could ignite the debate and boost the Yes campaign.
 
He told Al Jazeera: "The biggest problem so far is that people have great fears about the unknown of independence, whether that's pensions, social security, or the currency situation. 
 
"Now there will be some answers contained in the White Paper."
 
Established in 1999, the devolved Scottish parliament has been used to enact policies including a public smoking ban, free personal care for the elderly, free medical prescriptions and a freeze in council tax.
 
Independence would also give Holyrood, the seat of parliament, control over all other matters reserved to Westminster, such as defence, foreign policy, immigration and taxation.
 
If Scotland does split from the union, pro-independence political leaders have already nominated March 24, 2016, as independence day.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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