Originally posted on National Post | News:

EDINBURGH — Scotland set up a historic independence referendum after its leader signed an agreement on Monday with Britain’s prime minister finalizing arrangements for a vote that could lead to the demise of its three-centuries-old union with England.

Scotland’s drive for sovereignty, led by its nationalist leader Alex Salmond, echoes separatist moves by other European regions such as Catalonia and Flanders which feel they could prosper as separate entities inside the European Union.

Signed in the Scottish capital Edinburgh, the deal will allow Scotland to decide in a 2014 referendum whether it should become an independent country or stay within the United Kingdom.

[np-related]

One of the most contentious issues at stake is the ownership of an estimated 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas reserves beneath the UK-controlled part of the North Sea.

Britain is also worried about the future of its nuclear submarine fleet based in Scotland…

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