The Edinburgh Agreement was signed By David Cameron and Alex Salmon in Edinburgh on 15 October 2012.
It established the legal basis for the Scottish independence referendum.
The first point to note is that Cameron went to Edinburgh. As Scotland are a supplicant which wishes to leave the Union, Cameron should have insisted that Salmond came to Westminster. By going to Edinburgh it at best created a spurious equality between UK national government and the devolved Scottish one and at worst that Salmond was controlling the negotiations. .
The gratuitous pandering to Salmond went far beyond the place of negotiation and signing. The clauses in the agreement which pander to the SNP are these:
4. The Order enables the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a referendum that takes place at any point before the end of 2014. The date of the poll will be for the Scottish Parliament to determine and will be set out in the Referendum Bill to be introduced by the Scottish Government. The Order requires the poll for this referendum to be held on a day with no other poll provided for by legislation of the Scottish Parliament.
6. The Order enables the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a referendum with one question on independence. The wording of the question will be for the Scottish Parliament to determine and will be set out in the Referendum Bill to be introduced by the Scottish Government, subject to the Electoral Commission’s review process, as set out in the paragraphs which follow.
9. The Referendum Bill introduced by the Scottish Government will create a franchise for the referendum. Both governments agree that all those entitled to vote in Scottish Parliamentary and local government elections should be able to vote in the referendum.
10. The Scottish Government’s consultation on the referendum also set out a proposal for extending the franchise to allow 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in the referendum. It will be for the Scottish Government to decide whether to propose extending the franchise for this referendum and how that should be done. It will be for the Scottish Parliament to approve the referendum franchise, as it would be for any referendum on devolved matters.
11. The Scottish Government’s decision on what to propose to the Scottish Parliament will be informed by the analysis of responses to its consultation exercise and by practical considerations. The Order does not restrict the extension of the franchise in the case of this referendum.
25. The Referendum Bill to be introduced by the Scottish Government will provide for the spending limits in the regulated period for the independence referendum. Both governments agree that the rules and standards set out in PPERA provide the basis for setting the limits.
Cameron gave away any say in the following matters by leaving it to the Scottish parliament to decide what should be done:
1. The general referendum legislation
2. The date of the referendum
3. The referendum question
4. The franchise
5. The referendum expenditure rules
There is also a clause which may well cause difficulty should there be a vote for Scottish independence, viz:
30. The United Kingdom and Scottish Governments are committed, through the Memorandum of Understanding 4between them and others, to working together on matters of mutual interest and to the principles of good communication and mutual respect. The two governments have reached this agreement in that spirit. They look forward to a referendum that is legal and fair producing a decisive and respected outcome. The two governments are committed to continue to work together constructively in the light of the outcome, whatever it is, in the best interests of the people of Scotland and of the rest of the United Kingdom.
The final sentence is the fly in the ointment. Although it is vaguely worded it could give Salmond a platform to argue for things such as a currency union.