As I've mentioned previously, Scottish independence is both a possibility and increasingly an opportunity for political game playing.
Over the weekend British Prime Minister David Cameron demanded the Scots hold their independence referendum within 18 months. Today the Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond said no way. Cameron does not have the authority to dictate when to hold the referendum and it would go ahead, as Salmond planned, in autumn 2014.
As for Cameron trying to name the date. "I think it's going to increase support for independence and the SNP. I thought his intervention at the weekend was almost Thatcher-esque in its nature," said the SNP leader, invoking a name that many Scots loathe (Post-Thatcher the Conservative party has one very few elections north of the border. Currently there is only one Scottish MP.)
A few hours later at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Cameron quipped about Salmond's timetable, "I sometimes think when I listen to [the SNP] that it is not a referendum they want, it's a never-endum."
The line, probably rehearsed, got a modest chuckle.
There are, of course, serious issues here, The Guardian quotes Professor Robert Hazell of University College London,
"If the Scots vote "yes", negotiations would begin on issues great and small, such as how to divide the national debt and North Sea oil revenues, nuclear bases on the Clyde and the sharing of defense capabilities, and Scotland's membership of the EU. (Most international lawyers say that Scotland would have to reapply.) The division of Czechoslovakia in 1992 required 30 treaties and 12,000 legal agreements."
What money would the country use? Euro or pound? If the former where would it acquire gold and other reserves to put on deposit in the European Central Bank?
It's not such an easy process, breaking up a 300 year old shotgun marriage.