Cameron and Salmond sign Scottish referendum deal

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond shakes hands with Prime Minister David Cameron Credit: Gordon Terris/The Herald/PA Wire

Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond have signed an historic agreement enabling Scotland to hold a legally-binding referendum on independence.

The deal stipulates that the referendum will take place in autumn 2014 with a single Yes/No question on Scotland leaving the UK. It also allows 16 and 17-year-old to vote.

ITV's News' Scotland Correspondent Debi Edward reports:

After the signing, Mr Cameron told ITV News he "passionately" believes Scotland should remain part of the union.

He said, "This United Kingdom can never hold a country within it without its consent. We're better off together, but now people will have the choice".

Mr Salmond told reporters he was doing his "absolute best not to look triumphant".

The Scottish First Minister called today "an historic day for Scotland", saying the agreement "paves the way for the most important decision that our country of Scotland has made in several hundred years".

ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship examines what is at stake for both sides of the border, in a vote to end three hundred years of history:

The Governments have agreed that the referendum should have a clear legal base; be legislated for by the Scottish Parliament; be conducted so as to command the confidence of parliaments, government and people; and deliver a fair test and decisive expression of the views of people in Scotland and a result that everyone will respect ... The referendum legislation will set out the date of the referendum; the franchise; the wording of the question; rules on campaign financing; and other rules for the conduct of the referendum.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said he believes the deal means that "the fight is now on" for the UK.

It came as an ITV News Index Poll carried out by ComRes appears to show only 34% of Scottish voters support independence, compared with 55% who oppose it.

Of the 2,097 British adults surveyed between 12-14 October:

  • 29% of British respondents support Scottish independence

  • 55% of Scots felt Scotland would suffer economically if it became independent

  • 40% of Scots said the rest of the UK would face that fate if Scotland left the UK

  • 71% of Scots believe only Scottish citizens should get a vote in the referendum

  • 41% of Brits said everyone in the UK should get to vote in the referendum