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MIBEES AYE.. MIBEES NAW.. MIBEES NEITHER THE OF ABOVE; ECK LINES UP INDY MULTIPLE CHOICE.

Byline: Torcuil Crichton

ALEX Salmond has suggested there will be a multiple choice referendum on the future of Scotland - offering voters a range of powers for Holyrood short of full independence.

Answering questions on the referendum issue in front of foreign reporters in London yesterday, the First Minister said the "questions will be enunciated" in due course.

Salmond told members of the Foreign Press Association: "We will organise a referendum on independence within this five-year term. It will be towards the end of the five-year term. The questions will be enunciated in good time for that referendum to take place."

Later, he insisted that "the straight question" of independence would be on the ballot paper.

He added: "I've left open that there can be a second question on financial freedom or fiscal autonomy, whatever you want to call it, if it can be formulated in a way that people can vote on. I have not dismissed the possibility."

Until now, Salmond has kept his options open, preferring a yes or no question, but saying he is open to suggestions on offering voters increased powers for Holyrood - described as "devolution max" or "independence lite".

But shadow Scottish secretary Ann McKechin hit out: "It is astonishing that a man who has worked his entire adult life for independence is still unable to tell the Scottish people what the question will be.

"Separation from the UK is not a game and I do not believe that Scots will be fooled by yet another attempt to try and fudge the issue."

Polling consistently shows two-thirds of Scots opposeindependence. But the SNP hope to lever more people into the pro-independence camp by asking them specific questions on sovereign issues.

Yesterday, Salmond had a two-hour meeting with Chancellor George Osborne in which he outlined demands for extra power in areas including corporation tax and alcohol excise duties.

He also wants the Crown Estate revenues in Scotland to go to the Holyrood exchequer, for Scottish ministers to have representation at EU level and for increased broadcasting powers.

Salmond also argued that Osborne's pounds 2billion windfall tax on oil and gas production could cost 10,000 jobs and stop future investment in the sector.

RECORD VIEW: Page 8

COUNCIL LEADER AT JUST 26

BRITAIN'S youngest local authority leader is set to be appointed in Aberdeen.

Callum McCaig, 26, won the top spot in Aberdeen City Council's SNP group, just days after they won a key by-election.

It puts him on course to become the youngest local authority leader in the UK.

Members voted in the young politician - who joined the council at just 22 - yesterday.

McCaig said: "I am extremely proud to be chosen by my colleagues to lead the group. I look forward to embracing the challenge."

But Labour councillor Neil Cooney - who was McCaig's history teacher at school - said: "I think he's a bit young for that job."

The current youngest leader is York's James Alexander, 29.

CAPTION(S):

BALLOT VOW: Salmond addresses the foreign press NAT CHIEF: McCaig
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 24, 2011
Words:503
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