LONDON, September 8 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – A Special Adviser to the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has told RIA Novosti that the pro-UK Better Together campaign will later this week outline a “process” whereby Scotland could obtain more powers, but only if they reject independence in a referendum to be held in ten days’ time.
Speaking from the Prime Minister’s official residence in Downing Street, Ramsay Jones told RIA Novosti that comments made by the Chancellor George Osborne at the weekend – in which he implied additional powers for Scotland would be announced later this week – did not represent the UK Government’s official position, but instead reflected those of the wider cross-party No campaign.
“What the Chancellor was talking about is something the wider cross-party campaign plan to announce this week in terms of the future of devolution,” Jones said.
“It is no different from the First Minister talking about the future of independence,” Jones told RIA Novosti.
There had been widespread speculation that the Chancellor’s comments over the weekend suggesting “additional powers” for Scotland constituted a breach of the ‘Edinburgh Agreement’. That document, signed in 2012 by the Prime Minister and Scottish First Minister, obliged both Governments to avoid making any additional commitments during the final 28 days of the campaign.
“This was not the Government making an announcement, this was George Osborne simply flagging up that the parties will be making an announcement this week,” Jones told RIA Novosti.
Following Osborne’s comments Alistair Darling, the leader Better Together campaign, which opposes Scottish independence, was quick to clarify that what would be announced was not additional powers for Scotland, but simply a restating of what the No side had already outlined several months ago.
“The additional powers coming to the Scottish parliament were announced by the party leaders, north and south of the border, some time ago,” Darling told the BBC.
Ramsay Jones told RIA Novosti that the new announcement would clarify the processes around how new powers might be devolved to Scotland in the event of a No vote.
“What the Chancellor was announcing was a plan of action that will be unveiled about how the next stage of devolution will go forward so people can see the process and allow them to see the timetable for that to happen. So he and Alistair Darling are talking about exactly the same thing,” Jones said.
“Additional powers may well emerge from that process. All the parties have made their various proposals and there will be other ideas out there,” Ramsay added.
“The question is – as has always been the case with devolution – there has to be some kind of process for those kinds of ideas to come together. Scotland has to have a conversation for these ideas to come together. You don’t go into that with an absolute proscription on what the outcome should be. That is not the way it’s done,” Jones told RIA Novosti.
Joan McAlpine, a Member of the Scottish Parliament representing the pro-independence Scottish National Party, told RIA Novosti, “People of Scotland will not be fooled by the No campaign's panicked attempts to bribe them into voting No.
“As the polls show the referendum is closer than ever, more and more people are waking up to the fact that only the full powers independence will enable Scotland to thrive - and that is why we are confident of a Yes vote next Thursday,” McAlpine added.