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Interview: "We want Scotland to be a sovereign state": SNP leader

(Xinhua)

16:43, January 16, 2012

LONDON, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Angus Robertson wants Scotland to become a sovereign state via a referendum in 2014.

Robertson, who is also a British member of parliament, said in an interview with Xinhua that the consultation process for the referendum would be launched at the end of this month by the Scottish government.

"We will be working between now and the autumn 2014," he said. "So Scotland, which was a historic nation, will become a nation that not only governs itself in the autonomous areas that we have policy, but is going to have better links with the rest of the world."

Heated debates between the British government and the SNP have taken the spotlight in British media in the past few days.

Prime Minister David Cameron demanded clarity for the referendum earlier last week. He granted Scotland the legal authority to hold a legally binding referendum, but imposed conditions.

First, the vote should be restricted to a decision on whether Scotland should remain in or leave the United Kingdom. This rules out the possibility of achieving greater autonomy directly through the referendum, especially in the aspect of the economy, as many had expected.

Second, the referendum should be held by an earlier date, which the media believe should be before the middle of 2013.

Alex Salmond, the first minister of Scotland, reportedly rejected the requirements from London.

When asked about the conditions, Robertson said the Scottish government was elected with a mandate to bring forward a referendum, which did not need approval from the prime minister. "The Scottish government will determine the time scale of the referendum," he said.

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