THE UK Government was rightly praised for the way it dealt with the Edinburgh Agreement negotiations in 2012.

Instead of making life difficult for the SNP, David Cameron recognised Alex Salmond's mandate for an independence referendum and paved the way for a fair and legal vote. He made clear the constitutional issue would be settled in Scotland, with his Government's support.

However, evidence is beginning to emerge that the UK Government is covertly seeking international support for its anti-independence campaign.

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The Sunday Herald revealed that officials in Cameron's administration recently flew to Madrid for a meeting with the Spanish Government on the referendum.

It has now been claimed, by a news source with well-established links to the Russian Government, that the UK wants Vladimir Putin's support on the referendum.

Putin has a range of complex issues to deal with, and derailing Scottish independence is hardly his top priority.

However, Russia's leadership of the G8 this year gives Putin a platform to make life difficult for Salmond. He hates "separatism" and is obsessed with protecting Russia's territorial integrity.

The broader issue is whether Cameron's government is internationalising the referendum in an underhand way, which hardly squares with his public insistence that Scotland should be left to decide its own future.