Scottish independence: David Cameron delivers emotional plea for Scotland to stay

Prime Minister says 'independence would not be a trial separation. It would be a painful divorce'

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The Independent Online

David Cameron has made an emotional plea to the people of Scotland to reject independence, telling them that the UK was not just “any old country” and that millions of people would be “utterly heartbroken” if it was broken up.

Speaking in Aberdeen, Mr Cameron argued that separation would mean a new currency for Scotland, families separated, pensions sliced up and a border created with England. He said a Scottish exit from the Union would be like “painstakingly building a home – and then walking out the door and throwing away the keys”.

Mr Cameron also struck a note of passion that has been absent from much of the No campaign: “I speak for millions of people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – and many in Scotland, too – who would be utterly heartbroken by the break-up of the United Kingdom, utterly heartbroken to wake up on Friday morning to the end of the country we love.”

He said the vote would be irreversible, adding: “Independence would not be a trial separation. It would be a painful divorce.”

Tackling his party’s unpopularity in Scotland, he warned of the perils of a protest vote on Thursday. “If you don’t like me, I won’t be here for ever. If you don’t like this government, it won’t last for ever. But if you leave the UK, it will be for ever,” he said.

Mr Cameron also paid lavish tribute to Scots’ contribution to the “greatest example of democracy the world has ever known”, insisting the country had “only become Great Britain because of the greatness of Scotland”.

But Alex Salmond, the First Minister, retorted: “The next time he comes to Scotland it will not be to love-bomb or engage in desperate last-minute scaremongering, and following a Yes vote it will be to engage in serious post-referendum talks in the best interests of the people of Scotland and the rest of the UK, as pledged in the Edinburgh Agreement.”

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, will spend the next two days on the campaign trail in an attempt to stop the defection of party supporters to the Yes camp. The three main party leaders at Westminster also signed a pledge last night to devolve more powers to Scotland if a No vote prevails.

Meanwhile, a series of major figures in US politics and economics warned Scots against a Yes vote. Alan Greenspan, former US Federal Reserve chairman, said the economic consequences would be “surprisingly negative for Scotland, more so than the Nationalist party is in any way communicating”.

He said their forecasts were “so implausible they really should be dismissed out of hand” and declared there was no way the Bank of England would agree to remain the lender of last resort to an independent Scotland.

The debate over how an independent Scotland would defend itself will also be reignited today by the publication of an open letter signed by more than 400 former servicemen and women, who claim that leaving the UK would leave the country’s military “irresponsibly weakened”.

The signatories to the joint statement – who include six former heads of the Army in Scotland, 15 generals and 11 veterans of the Second World War – say: “We see no evidence that the SNP’s proposals for the defence and security of an independent Scotland could possibly provide us with a credible, effective defence force capable of securing the interests of Scotland and our people.”

However, another group of veterans backing a Yes vote yesterday issued their own letter stating that the referendum was about Scotland choosing its own future instead of supporting a “self-serving Westminster establishment”.