More Devolution 'Within Months'

Scotland can have more devolution within months of a No vote, whereas a vote for independence will lead to years of wrangling with the UK and Europe, according to the leader of the Better Together campaign.

Alistair Darling spoke after the leaders of the three main pro-union parties in Scotland came together to pledge more powers for the country if it rejects independence.

Labour leader Johann Lamont, Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Edinburgh to endorse a timetable for change after the September 18 vote.

Speaking on STV's Scotland Tonight, Mr Darling was quizzed about when the approach was decided upon.

He told the show: "Isn't it a bit more important that rather than dwelling on the process you should be dwelling on the substantive offer and the substantial offer is giving the Scottish Parliament more powers in relation to tax, more powers in relation to welfare, more powers in relation to the jobs programme?

"It means you can guarantee the funding of the NHS and you can do it in months, not leaving this to some sort of chance in the years of negotiation that would inevitably follow any vote to leave the UK.

"I don't want to see that turbulence, all that risk, all that uncertainty. I want to make sure we can improve the quality of people's lives within the United Kingdom, within Scotland.''

Earlier, he told the programme: "Think about it, if we break away in 10 days time, the months, years of wrangling with the UK, the years of wrangling within the European Union, and all the time what's going to happen to jobs?

"Look what's been happening even in the last 48 hours with markets becoming unsettled, with firms losing their value.''

Mr Darling would not be drawn on whether he would join First Minister Alex Salmond's "Team Scotland'' to negotiate a deal on independence if there is a Yes vote in the referendum.

He was asked whether, as someone with Scotland's interests at heart, he would distance himself from the Scottish Government's negotiations or try to get as much of the White Paper into a final settlement.

Mr Darling told the programme: "Anyone who lives in Scotland in political life, or not yet in political life, surely would want to do the best they possibly can for their country.

"That doesn't mean you suddenly fall into line with Alex Salmond. What it does mean is we accept the result of the referendum.''

He was also questioned on the latest broadcast from the Better Together campaign, which features several key figures in Labour's history.

"It is aimed at those voters who want to see a better and a stronger Scotland, who in the last a few years have had a pretty rough time with austerity,'' Mr Darling said.

"What we are saying is look what we have achieved in the past together, the NHS, the welfare state, which we built together. Look what we can achieve again in the future to make Scotland stronger.''

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