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The Scottish government has unveiled its proposals for an interim written constitution to be used if Scotland votes for independence on September 18.
The draft constitution asserts that “in Scotland, the people are sovereign”, a break with traditions of sovereignty rooted in the monarchy or parliament.
The governing Scottish National party says a written document would offer better protections for citizens’ rights than the UK’s unwritten constitution.
“We believe that Scotland should have a written constitution, rather than the quilt work of statutes, precedent, practice and tradition that make up the constitution of the UK,” said Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s deputy first minister.
The proposed interim constitution includes a clause requiring the government to seek the “safe and expeditious” removal from Scotland of nuclear weapons, an effort to ward off suggestions that Edinburgh might be willing to compromise on the future of the UK’s Clyde-based deterrent after a Yes vote.
The interim constitution would be used until a post-independence constitutional convention came up with a permanent document. SNP leaders have suggested that the permanent constitution should include clauses enshrining commitment to such policies as a ban on the stationing of nuclear weapons and free university education.
Ms Sturgeon said the process of coming up with a new constitution would be “energising”.
“As well as political parties and civic society, the process should ensure that the sovereign people of Scotland are centrally involved in designing and determining a written constitution as the blueprint for our country’s future,” she said.
The pro-union Better Together campaign waved the constitutional proposals aside, saying Scotland would gain more powers and retain greater strength and security if it stayed in the UK.
The Scottish leaders of the three main UK political parties on Monday tried to convince voters that a No vote in the referendum would lead to greater devolution by holding a joint photo opportunity in front of supporters holding up the letters for the slogan: “More Powers For Scotland, Guaranteed”.
Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties have all published devolution proposals, although they differ from each other and it is unclear whether the parties will seek to offer a more unified scheme.
The campaign group Republic criticised the Scottish government proposals for the constitution as “untenable, undemocratic and lacking imagination” because they retain the Queen as an independent Scotland’s head of state.
“The draft constitution promises the people of Scotland will be sovereign but that’s an empty promise if the highest office in the land is out of reach of ordinary citizens,” said Graham Smith, Republic’s chief executive.