Scotland hopes for 2016 independence day

Scotland would declare independence within a year and a half of a 'yes' vote in next year's referendum, the government said on Tuesday as it revealed its hopes for a transition to a new nation.

The proposed Scotland Independence Day would take place on March 2016, followed two months later by a parliamentary vote to elect lawmakers to draw up a written constitution, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

She said the timetable was realistic, explaining that 15 months was the average transition time among the 30 countries that have become independent since 1945 following a referendum.

The ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) will be campaigning for a 'yes' vote in the referendum planned for the second half of 2014, while the opposition Labour and Conservative parties will be pushing for Scotland to stay in the UK.

"A 'Yes' vote will give civic Scotland and our national parliament an unprecedented opportunity to build a solid constitutional platform for our country ahead of independence day in March 2016," Sturgeon said.

She urged the Conservative-led coalition government in London to begin discussions on the implications of a 'yes' vote well before the referendum.

However, the British government has ruled out 'pre-negotiating' independence.

It said its responsibility was to set out the case for Scotland to stay part of the United Kingdom, which it will do in an analysis paper to be published later this month.

Among the issues to be addressed are Scotland's membership of the European Union and other international bodies, where it is currently represented only as part of the United Kingdom.

Although the new constitution would be drawn up by a convention similar to that which wrote the US constitution, Sturgeon set out some key points.

The document would include a constitutional ban on nuclear weapons being based in Scotland, and make clear that Queen Elizabeth II would still be its monarch.

A poll reported last month in the Scotsman newspaper found that only 23 percent of people in Scotland support independence, down nine points on the previous year, with 61 percent backing continued devolution in the UK.