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”.
Scottish independence: What will happen to key British institutions?
Scottish independence: What will happen to key British institutions?
1/7 The 2015 General Election
If it votes for independence, Scotland won’t leave the union until 2016 meaning, under current arrangements, that if Scots decide to go it alone they will still vote in the 2015 general election. The possibility of Scotland swinging the vote in favour of the government with which it will negotiate their independence has led some to call for the elections to be delayed. Downing Street has said, however, that it has no plans to postpone the election despite claims a yes vote could lead to a constitutional crisis.
2/7 The NHS
Alex Salmond has said a Yes vote in the referendum is the only way to save Scotland’s National Health Service. This claim was undermined, however, yesterday when research published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies determined that Scotland’s devolved government spent less in real terms on its health service than England. Despite this, the splitting up of the NHS would be more straightforward than other institutions, as it is already managed from Holyrood.
3/7 The BBC
The Licence fee in Scotland currently raises around £230m which the Yes campaign says it would use, along with the assets of BBC Scotland, to create a Scottish Broadcasting Service or SBS. It says the SBS would continue to provide original content to the BBC and Scotland would receive access to all current programming, including BBC1, BBC2 and national radio stations. The government has said since February that an independent Scotland would lose any automatic rights to BBC programming.
4/7 The Pound
The No Campaign is hoping that doubts over whether or not Scotland will be able to keep the pound will sway the referendum in its favour. George Osborne has said that the UK will not let Scotland keep the pound if it votes to leave the union and the leader of the Better Together coalition, former Chancellor Alistair Darling, has called the Yes campaign’s suggestion that it keep the currency “mad”. Alex Salmond has claimed repeatedly that Scotland will be able to retain the pound and has said speculation to the contrary is little more than fear mongering.
5/7 The Army
Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war and the stationing of the Trident Nuclear fleet north of the border are unpopular in Scotland. The Scottish Nationalists have railed against the war saying they would scrap Trident and create a new Scottish defence force based on existing Scottish regiments.
6/7 The Royal Family
Scotland would keep the Queen as a head of state under current plans proposed by the Yes campaign, as Elizabeth Queen of Scots. It would also remain part of the Commonwealth. However a second referendum could be held to determine what form a new Scottish state would take.
Scotland’s Rugby and Football teams would remain as they are if Scotland voted to leave the UK but the British and Irish Lions could be forced into a name change. What would happen to the British Olympic Association also remains up for debate. Scotland’s most successful Olympian Sir Chris Hoy has said he is wary of independence because of the number of Scottish athletes living and training in England and what their status would be.
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”.Reuse content