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Saturday 16th
posted by Malcolm Burns in Britain

PM tells SNP: Referendum not on cards

THE big winners of the election north and south of the border faced off over powers for the Scottish Parliament — and a possible second independence referendum — in Edinburgh yesterday.

David Cameron told Nicola Sturgeon that another referendum was “not remotely on the cards” despite suggestions from senior members of the SNP that it could be in their manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood elections.

First Minister Ms Sturgeon said she would “put forward proposals for devolution further than the Smith Commission” to which the Prime Minister responded that he did not rule out “other changes if sensible suggestions are made.”

Ms Sturgeon said that there was a commitment “of significance” from the PM that “the legislation that they will shortly introduce to the Westminster Parliament to implement the proposals of the Smith Commission will implement those proposals in full.”

She said the Scottish Parliament’s devolution committee reported on Thursday that current plans to transfer more powers failed to meet either “the spirit or the substance” of the Smith Agreement.

Mr Cameron confirmed he would meet his election pledge of more powers for Holyrood in his first Queen’s Speech.

On further powers, he said: “The First Minister wants to send some proposals for me to look at and I’m happy to examine proposals.”

The two leaders had what Mr Cameron described as an “honest disagreement” over the vexed issue of the SNP demand for full fiscal autonomy.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I want Scotland to have full fiscal autonomy, David Cameron doesn’t, but what we said in our manifesto was that there were priority powers over and above the Smith Commission that we wanted to see devolved.

“So, what we are talking about are business taxes and employment legislation, the minimum wage and more powers over welfare.”

Mr Cameron said full fiscal autonomy “would land Scottish taxpayers with £7 billion of extra taxes or Scottish people with £7 billion of extra cuts.”

But Ian Murray, Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary, warned there was a “real risk” the Tories could do a deal on full fiscal autonomy.

“Whatever the SNP’s political ambitions, it must not accept a Tory deal that cuts Scotland’s budget,” he said.