ALEX Salmond charged across the Border this week on St George's Day to tell the Cumbrians us Scots would be even better neighbours ...

after independence.

If the First Minister has his way, come St Andrew's Day Scotland will be on the way to independence and he will be locked in negotiations with David Cameron on the disputed issues.

There are many of them and no doubt many more yet to raise their head once the real serious business starts.

All the assets and liabilities of the UK state that would be broken up would need to be settled.

The positions both sides are taking just now are just that, pre-negotiation stances on what they want in the best-case scenario, if everything was to go their way.

Negotiations never end up that way, just ask Nick Clegg and his deal with the Tories, when he caved on his line-in-the-sand policy.

Each side must be willing to move on some of their aims and compromise some of the hard line certainties that are being promised and threatened just now.

The big topics at this stage are still currency, debt and nuclear weapons, but there are others, the UK has assets abroad in embassies and conventional military forces where Scotland and Scots has played a significant role in their development and success.

There's also the BBC, and I don't mean whether we will be able to watch Dr Who? but the nuts and bolts, premises, staff and skills of that massive organisation.

On the big topics with less than six months to go no-one can be certain of the outcome of negotiations, should there be a Yes vote and to promise otherwise is ignoring the reality of negotiation.

Scotland will keep the pound says Salmond while Osborne, Balls and Alexander say definitely not.

You don't need to be a political mastermind to know all four can't be right.

Each will have a position where they will compromise their original intention, but obviously won't reveal it now. Then there's nuclear weapons. Nicola Sturgeon declared there will be no deal on this one, they are going.

"We will be in the removal business," she said. But removed to where? We cannot just drop them off in UK waters off the coast at Whitehaven or Liverpool and order all nuclear-related military personnel out.

Building work at Faslane and Coulport is an ongoing project and to construct a comparable facility in the South to accommodate the submarines, weapons and staff safely will take a very long time.

Scotland might need to prepare for being in the storage business. If our politicians are more open and honest about the nature of negotiations and prepare people for the possibility of different outcomes it might prevent the prospect of later accusations of dishonesty, U-turns and climbdowns ... on all sides.