Thursday, March 21 14:35:09
Scotland will hold its independence referendum on Sept. 18, 2014, First Minister Alex Salmond said today, starting the countdown to a vote he hopes will take his nation of 5 million out of the United Kingdom.
Salmond's pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) won a majority in the Scottish parliament in May 2011 elections, giving the charismatic politician what he has called a "once-in-a-generation" chance to break ties with London.
The SNP faces an uphill battle to win the referendum, whose terms were agreed with the British government last October. Opinion polls put support for independence at about 30 percent of the electorate in Scotland while about 50 percent favour the status quo.
The SNP says North Sea oil revenues and local industries would enable an independent Scotland to prosper, but other parties in Edinburgh and the London government say both Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom would lose out.