Scottish independence: confusion over EU membership
Pro-Union 'scaremongering' or 'deeply embarrassing' for SNP? EU president causes a stir
The new European Commission president has sparked a fresh row between pro and anti-independence campaigns by apparently suggesting that a newly independent Scotland could not expect swift readmittance to the EU.
Jean-Claude Juncker insisted that no new country would be allowed to join the EU for the next five years. "The EU needs to mark a pause in its enlargement process so that we can consolidate what has been done with 28 members," he told MEPs yesterday.
However, Juncker's spokeswoman later told the BBC that any application by a future independent Scotland was a "separate issue".
She said Juncker's comments applied to countries such as Iceland, Serbia and Turkey who were already in the process of applying for EU membership and that Scotland was only a "hypothetical" issue.
By then the No campaign had already seized upon Juncker's comments, describing them as a "further impediment" to an independent Scotland's entry into the EU, writes the BBC's Scottish political editor Brian Taylor.
The Telegraph's Scottish political editor Simon Johnson described Juncker's comments as "deeply embarrassing" for the nationalists.
"Being outside the EU for five years would put thousands of Scottish jobs, exports and businesses at risk," said Douglas Alexander, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary.
But nationalists argue that a separate arrangements could allow an independent Scotland to re-join the EU within 18 months. They accuse the Better Together campaign of "distorting" Junker's remarks and "scaremongering" in order to further their agenda.
Better Together said Juncker's clarification still left doubt about the status of an independent Scotland.
"As President Juncker has made perfectly clear, if we leave the UK, we would then have to start the application process to join,' a spokesperson said. "How long that process would take and what conditions would be attached is anyone's guess."
Scottish independence: Salmond and Darling set date for debate
A date has finally been set for a television debate on Scottish independence between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, reports The Guardian.
Following weeks of wrangling between the rivals in the Scottish referendum campaign, the two-hour debate will take place on 5 August at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in Glasgow, in front of an audience of 350 members of the public. It will be broadcast live on STV.
The debate had originally been scheduled for July 16, but it was cancelled when Salmond refused to participate unless his opponent was David Cameron.
When the later date was suggested, Salmond swiftly agreed but Darling's camp initially refused to take part, apparently in protest at STV's capitulation to the first minister¹s demands.
After STV confirmed the date last night, a spokesperson for Salmond said that the first minister is "delighted" that Darling has "finally" accepted the invitation.
Striking a pre-fight tone early on, the spokesperson added: "Mr Darling will be acting as a shield for the prime minister who we will continue to pursue for a debate and as such he will be defending the Tory policies of David Cameron's government."
But a spokesperson for the pro-union Better Together campaign countered: "Alex Salmond will now finally have to answer questions on the pound, pensions and public services that he has spent the last two years dodging."
Meanwhile, The Herald reports that Darling has accepted a BBC bid for a live debate in Inverness on August 12. The proposal is being considered by Salmond.
Scottish Independence: surge in donations for 'No' campaign
Campaigners calling for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom are well ahead of the pro-independence movement in terms of financial donations, according to the latest report on campaign funds released by the Electoral Commission.
It shows that the 'No' campaign received more than double the amount of donations given to pro-independence campaign groups between December 2013 and June 2014.
But with the vote looming, a row over the figures has blown up with the pro-Union group, Better Together, accusing Yes Scotland of running front organisations to side-step funding rules, an allegation it denies.
The allegations raise questions around donations and campaign spending and how they are controlled.
How much have the parties received?
- The Better together campaign declared just over £2.4m in donations
- The Yes Scotland campaign received £1.16m
Who are the biggest donors?
Yes Scotland has accused the Better Together campaign of being funded by bankers and wealthy conservatives, most of who live outside of Scotland.
Major donations to the 'Yes' campaign:
- Euromillions lottery winners Chris and Colin Weir gave half-a-million pounds each
- Stagecoach boss Sir Brian Souter donated £200,000
Major donations to the 'No' campaign:
- JK Rowling donated £1m
- Major whisky distiller William Grant and Sons donated a "substantial sum"
- Crime writer CJ Samson gave £200,000
- £100,000 was given by stockbroker and Tory backer Andrew Fraser
- £50,000 was received from Ivor Dunbar, former Deutsche Bank co-head.
How long do the campaigns have to spend the money?
Campaigners are only allowed to spend the funds raised during the 'referendum period'. The formal 'referendum period', set out by the Scottish government's Referendum Act, began on 30 May and will continue until the end of polling when Scotland votes on 18 September.
What are the spending limits and rules?
According to the UK's Electoral Commission, designated lead campaigns, in this case Better Together and Yes Scotland, have a spending limit of £1.5m. Smaller registered campaign groups such as Christians for Independence and the No Borders campaign have a limit of £150,000.
"Organisations can work together", reports the BBC's Scotland political editor Brian Taylor. "But, if they do so, this can have an effect on the money they can spend." If smaller organisations work under a designated lead campaign, the spending must come off the £1.5m spending total for that group.
The spending limits for Scottish political parties are based on their share of the votes in the 2011 election:
- Scottish National Party - £1,344,000
- Labour Party - £831,000
- Conservative & Unionist Party - £399,000
- Liberal Democrats - £204,000
- Green Party - £150,000
Why are there limits?
The commission imposes limits, or what it calls "essentially a 'level ceiling'" which is used to deter excessive spending, rather than to ensure equal spending power.
What happens if the rules are broken?
Exceeding election spending limits is a criminal offence and the commission is also able to impose civil sanctions, explains the BBC.
What happens if the campaigns have funds left over after the referendum?
According to Electoral Commission, there are "no rules" for campaigners that have left over funds after 18 September. However, if the funds are given to a political party and above the £7,500 threshold, the political party would have to report that to the commission.
Scottish independence: PM urges Scotland's 'silent majority' to say no
David Cameron will today make another intervention in the Scottish independence referendum debate, telling the "silent majority" of Scots to speak out in favour of a 'no' vote, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Speaking to business leaders and party activists, he will also accuse Scotland’s SNP leadership of using "threats" to silence Scots business people who are opposed to independence.
The latest YouGov poll says that of voters who have made up their minds 61% are opposed to independence. Cameron will say tomorrow: "We’ve heard the noise of the nationalist few, but now it is time for the voices of the silent majority to be heard.
"The silent majority who feel happy being part of the UK; the silent majority who don't want the risks of going it alone; the silent majority who worry about what separation would mean for their children and grandchildren.
"With 77 days to go, we need the voices of the many to ring out across the land. For each one to realise that they are not alone because there are millions just like them."
Speaking in parliament yesterday, Cameron said Alex Salmond’s Scottish government was using "threats and warnings" to exert "a huge amount of pressure" on business people, stopping them from speaking out against separating from the UK.
He said: "I come across business leader after business leader, large and small in Scotland, who want to keep our United Kingdom together and think it would be crazy to have border controls, different currencies and split up our successful United Kingdom."
The Telegraph says one Scottish businessman, Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp – chief executive of a pro-Independence group, Business for Scotland – refuted Cameron’s claims, saying business people across Scotland are already "speaking up" and "don’t feel at all intimidated".
More on Scottish independence:
Scottish independence: the pros and cons of going it alone What would it cost to divide the UK? Standard Life warns it could quit an independent Scotland Cameron and Salmond to hold rival North Sea oil meetings David Bowie spots the danger: Scots' Yes vote gathers strength BoE's Mark Carney wades into Scottish independence debate PM invokes spirit of Team GB to fight Scottish independence Salmond: end of Scottish pound would cost UK £500m Scottish independence: Osborne rules out currency union