The British government set out conditions on Tuesday under which Scotland would be allowed to hold a referendum on breaking away from the rest of Britain.

Any referendum must be limited to a straightforward yes-or-no question on independence, excluding the option of asking whether Scotland should be given greater devolved powers, and should be held as soon as possible, the British government said.

The pro-independence Scottish National Party, which heads a devolved government in Edinburgh, has said it plans to hold a referendum by 2016 on ending the 300-year union with England.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; editing by Keith Weir)