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Tory MP wants 100,000 Britons to hug Scotland to keep the UK united

Rory Stewart told the Commons that the emotional argument for the union had been forgotten
  • @kashmiragander

Of all the tactics to keep Scotland in the UK, this is by far the most inventive, and physical, yet.

Tory MP Rory Stewart has called for 100,000 Britons to effectively hug Scotland into staying in the union, by forming a coast-to-coast human chain along Hadrian’s wall, this summer.

With a gesture of love and respect to Scotland, Mr Stewart hopes to introduce an emotional slant into the independence debate, which he claims has so far been too focused on economics.

Using his own experiences as an example, Mr Stewart recalled a canoeing expedition he undertook with the Scottish National Party's Angus MacNeil, saying he would miss the MP from the boat and would be embarrassed to be part of a country without him in it.

His suggestion comes during the run up to the referendum on Scottish independence to be held 18 September this year.

He told the Commons: “It cannot be simply economics. If a relationship is going wrong, if a marriage is going wrong, the answer cannot simply be to say 'you can't afford to break up because you are going to lose the house'.

”The answer has to be only one thing, which is 'I love you'."

A view from Hadrian's Wall, where Rory Stewart hopes 100,000 Britons will join hands and hug Scotland in the Summer

He added that he understands the appeal of Scottish nationalism when most people feel Westminster politics is broken and out of touch, but said the solution was to stay united rather than “shut the door”.

“We are not very good as politicians in talking about emotions. We have become very bad at it," he said.

"But we need to learn to do it because otherwise a party which is trying to reduce, that is trying to shrink, that is trying to vanish, will win.

“What do we mean when we say that 'I, as an MP for an English constituency, love Scotland'?

"Well it would be personal to every single one of us. It could be that we love intellectual seriousness," he argued.

“From the United Kingdom, we would miss Scotland for different personal reasons. For Scotland's egalitarianism, for Scotland's intellectual seriousness, for Scotland's sense of realism, for Scotland's sense of humour,” he added.

He called for "human expression" in the debate, and said he was calling for 100,000 to gather on 19 July this year.

“I'm hoping that 100,000 people will gather along that old, foreign, Roman wall - English, Welsh, Irish, Scots, holding hands, linking arms across that border."

"Because in the end what matters is not the wall that divides us but the human ties that bind in the name of love," he added.