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By Peter Griffiths LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday dismissed the Scottish government's vision of how the country would look if it votes for independence next year, accusing nationalists of ducking the biggest policy questions. Speaking in the UK parliament in London, Cameron said the 670-page blueprint for independence lacked credibility and failed to give detailed answers about an independent Scotland's future currency or its role in the European Union and NATO. "We were just left (with) a huge set of questions." Britain's three main UK-wide political parties oppose Scotland's independence, arguing that the country of 5 million people would be less prosperous and less secure on its own. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which dominates the devolved Scottish parliament, says it could thrive if it took the historic step.
By Andreas Rinke and Noah Barkin BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel clinched a coalition deal with the Social Democrats (SPD) on Wednesday that rolls back decade-old reforms of the German welfare state but preserves Berlin's strict approach towards struggling European partners. The result forced the popular 59-year-old Protestant pastor's daughter from East Germany into negotiations with the arch-rival SPD, with whom she ruled in an awkward "grand coalition" during her first term from 2005-2009. The SPD is still smarting from that experience, and its leadership has agreed to put the new deal to a vote of the party's 474,000 card-carrying members, adding an element of uncertainty to Merkel's goal of having a new government in place by Christmas. "We entered negotiations with very different ideas, and that is why things took a little time," Merkel told a news conference, sitting between SPD Chairman Sigmar Gabriel and Horst Seehofer, leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union.