Scotland will become an independent country on Thursday 24th March 2016 in the event of a vote for independence in next year’s referendum.
The proposed date of independence is included in the Scottish Government’s white paper which will be published on Tuesday next week.
The document, the most detailed and comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published, runs to 670 pages and more than 170,000 words.
It sets out, in five parts and over the course of 10 chapters, the independence prospectus on which people will vote in the referendum on September 18th next year.
The guide - with an initial print-run of 20,000 copies, but which will be made available to everyone who requests a copy – has been designed to be as accessible and reader-friendly as possible. It has been produced in tablet size, to make it as easy to read in hard copy as on a kindle, iPad or tablet. It will also be available to download as an e-book. A summary document will also be available in print and online.
Previewing the launch of the paper, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“This guide to an independent Scotland will be the most comprehensive and detailed blueprint of its kind ever published, not just for Scotland but for any prospective independent country.
“It is a landmark document which sets out the economic, social and democratic case for independence. It demonstrates Scotland's financial strengths and details how we will become independent – the negotiations, preparations and agreements that will be required in the transition period from a vote for independence in September next year to our proposed Independence Day of 24th March 2016 and in time for the first elections to an independent Scottish Parliament in May of that year.
“The guide describes what a newly independent Scotland will look like. It illustrates how the powers of independence can be used to benefit individuals, families, communities and the nation as a whole – and it answers a range of detailed questions that we have been asked.
“The document contains two categories of policy choice. Firstly, the choices that we will negotiate in the transition period – as the government leading negotiations – and which will therefore provide the starting point for an independent Scotland. And secondly, the policy choices that we will make if this administration forms the Government of an independent Scotland from May 2016. That section recognises, indeed embraces, the point that the choice of government and therefore of future policy is for the people of Scotland to make."
The Deputy First Minister added:
“The white paper has economic growth, jobs and fairness at its heart. The route to a successful Scotland is greater economic growth that benefits all and which supports greater participation – particularly amongst women – in the workplace and the economy as a whole.
"Ensuring that work pays, for example through a decent minimum wage, is central to our economic and social approach. We won't succeed and reach our full potential as long as we are locked into an unbalanced Westminster-controlled economy that disproportionately benefits one region and one section of society.
“The white paper will set out the strong economic position that an independent Scottish Government will inherit, but it will also be very clear that the key to long-term prosperity is sustainable economic growth.
“It is a document designed, above all, for the public.
"Our message to the people of Scotland is simple: read it, compare it with any alternative future for Scotland and make up your own mind.
“The document is very deliberately designed to be accessible and readable and it will be widely available to the public, with further details being made public in due course. It will be available in e-book format as well as hard copy. We want as many households in Scotland as possible to have a copy.
“The white paper will now be the document that drives the independence debate. It sets out the vision and the only detailed plan on offer to the people of Scotland. With this guide providing the positive case for a vote in favour of independence, the dynamic of the debate will decisively shift with its publication.”
Notes to editors
More details of how the white paper will be made available to the general public will be outlined on Tuesday of next week.
The proposed Independence Day of 24th March 2016 follows the dissolution of the current Scottish Parliament which is set to be scheduled to take place at midnight on Wednesday 23rd March 2016 (legislation requires that Parliament is dissolved 28 working days before the scheduled election). March 24th also happens to be the anniversary of both the Union of the Crowns in 1603 and of the signing of the Acts of Union in 1707.
The launch of the paper, at the Glasgow Science Centre, will be live-streamed online on the Scottish Government website – scotreferendum.com