David Cameron is said to be ready to sign off on the powers the Scottish Parliament needs for a legally binding referendum in September, provided the procedural details are arranged, particularly “the need for a single question”.
Speaking while in Glasgow, Mr Cameron said: “Frankly, the Scottish people deserve a fair, decisive and legal referendum. We’ve made an offer to let that happen.
“The Scottish Secretary of State and the First Minister should be hammering out the details so I can meet Alex Salmond at the end of September, and then we can go on with a date and all the rest of it. It really shouldn’t be impossible to do this.
“All of the Scottish political parties from both campaigns want a one-question referendum. That’s what the Scottish people deserve. Let’s not let process get in the way of the outcome that the Scottish people deserve.”
The UK Government insists that an early question is vital to give Westminster time to pass the enabling legislation, known as a section 30 order, and hand Holyrood the power it needs to hold a legally binding referendum. If agreement is not reached soon, there are fears the process could drag on beyond Mr Salmond’s preferred date of October 2014.
A spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond said: “As we have always said, we have absolutely no objection to a Section 30 Order in regard to the referendum, with no Westminster strings attached – which could be agreed very shortly.
“The terms and timing of the referendum must be decided in Scotland, by the Scottish Parliament, not dictated by a Tory-led Government at Westminster – and the Prime Minister has already conceded the autumn 2014 timescale.
“We are very confident indeed of achieving a Yes vote for independence in autumn 2014.”
The Prime Minister also pledged to support manufacturing as he visited Burntisland Fabrication (BiFab), a Fife company which is taking on 350 workers after winning two massive contracts worth £140m to help develop a new oil platform.