Scottish referendum

This policy was archived on 27 March 2015

The Scottish independence referendum took place on September 18. Visit the Scotland Office page for more information about work to devolve further powers to the Scottish Parliament.


The UK government believes Scotland is stronger in the UK, and the UK is stronger with Scotland in it. However, we recognised that the Scottish government was elected with a mandate to hold a referendum on Scottish independence. This referendum took place on Thursday September 18 and Scotland voted to remain part of the UK.

We ensured that the referendum:

  • had a clear legal basis
  • commanded the confidence of parliaments, governments and people
  • provided a fair test and a decisive expression of the views of people in Scotland


On 15 October 2012, the Prime Minister and First Minister signed an agreement that committed the UK and Scottish governments to pass powers to allow the Scottish Parliament to hold a single question referendum on independence before the end of 2014.

Following the agreement in October 2012, the UK and Scottish Parliaments approved the necessary legal measures to give the Scottish Parliament the authority to legislate for a referendum.

The legislation was approved by the Privy Council allowing the Scottish government to introduce its Referendum Bill into the Scottish Parliament. The bill received Royal Assent on 17 December 2013.


The Scottish government was elected in May 2011 with a pledge to hold a referendum on Scottish independence. The Prime Minister and the Scottish First Minister reached an agreement in October 2012, setting out how the 2 governments would work together to make sure that the referendum was legal, fair and decisive.

Who we’ve consulted

In January 2012 we published a consultation document about Scotland’s constitutional future. The consultation looked at how to make sure a referendum on Scottish independence could be fair, legal and decisive. This consultation informed our approach to our agreement with the Scottish government in October 2012.