Scottish First Minster has warned David Cameron against calling a snap referendum in Scotland, calling for the Prime Minster to act to clean up his own government before interfering with the wishes of the Scottish people. The row has been sparked by an interview in the Spectator where David Cameron said he would be willing to call a 'snap' referendum before the SNP's planned referendum in around three years' time.
It is the latest row to break out between the First Minster and the Prime Minster and there are growing calls in Westminster for the issue to be resolved quickly. The row has been provoked by David Cameron's words in the Spectator last week. The Prime Minster was commenting on his government's 'respect agenda' towards the Scottish government, but indicated that his patience with Holyrood might be 'limited.'
David Cameron has clearly riled Scot's First Minster Alex Salmond and the SNP leader has reacted furiously to any suggestions that London will call a referendum before his party, who he claims has the electoral mandate to do so, do so in around three years' time. First Minster Alex Salmond said: 'The people have spoken and given a powerful mandate for the policy detailed by the SNP in the election - the right to choose independence on the basis of one referendum, agreed by the Scottish parliament, towards the end of this Holyrood term.'
First Minster Alex Salmond continued his attack on Mr Cameron by claiming: 'David Cameron should be focused on delivering the additional job-creating powers in the Scotland Bill that the SNP also set out in the election, and secured the strongest possible mandate for - which is a key test of his 'respect agenda' for Scotland.'
Westminster can call a referendum at any time while Alex Salmond and the SNP stall over a vote, which is expected their second half of their term in office. The row will no doubt raise questions over who has the right to call the referendum and who has the mandate for any change.
Conservative backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg tried unsuccessfully last month to force a quick independence referendum within four months.
The Prime Minster has a surprising ally in the row in the shape of former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alastair Darling. Alastair Darling has told Scotland that he will play an 'active' role in a no vote in any Scottish independence referendum. The MP for Edinburgh has urged against full Scottish independence and has called for an immediate referendum.
He told BBC Radio Scotland's Newsweek programme: 'I'm sure there are many people in Scotland, me included, who, when it comes to the referendum, and I've already put this on record, who would say why not have it now?'
'I believe passionately that Scotland's best interests lay both within the European Union and within the UK and I will play a very, very active part in that, as will everybody else who has got Scotland's interests at heart.'