Westminster prompts row over Scottish referendum

THE WESTMINSTER government has raised the tension in the row with Scottish nationalists by telling Edinburgh it has no power to call a referendum on independence.

Coalition sources said a vote could be organised within 18 months with Scotland Secretary Michael Moore saying it would put an end to “uncertainty”.

Alex Salmond, the First Minister, wants to hold a poll in late 2014 to meet a SNP manifesto commitment for a vote in the second half of the Scottish parliamentary term.

He also wants to tap into the surge of Scottish nationalism expected from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

Salmond said: “This is the biggest decision in Scotland for 300 years. This has to be a referendum which is built in Scotland ... and then is determined by the good sense of the Scottish people.”

Westminster wants to exclude from the ballot paper a second question on giving more powers to Holyrood.