Scottish independence: Tony Blair wades into referendum debate with pro-Union plea

Former Prime Minister was born in Scotland

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The Independent Online

Tony Blair has said a yes vote in Thursday’s independence referendum would “rip up the alliance between our countries”, as he implored Scots to stick with the Union.

The former Prime Minister, who was born and educated in Scotland, said a vote for independence “would not be sensible, politically, economically or even emotionally”, as he spoke at a security conference in Kiev on Saturday.

They were the first public comments the former Labour leader has made about the referendum, a subject on which he has otherwise been silent. His successor Gordon Brown hinted at a return to front-line politics last week as he went on the attack against Alex Salmond in Kilmarnock, taking a more frontline role in the Better Together campaign.

Mr Blair has steered clear of involving himself in the referendum debate, apparently because he is aware of the toxic effect his campaigning could have, the Daily Mail reported. In his autobiography, A Journey, the former Prime Minister said he was to blame for Labour’s defeat to the SNP in 2007, which put this week’s referendum in motion.

Blair’s warnings were welcomed by the Yes campaign along with impassioned calls to Scottish voters from Ed Miliband and David Cameron last week. The pro-independence campaign has repeatedly said that Westminster leaders have employed "politics of fear" in their efforts to persuade voters to remain in the union.

Referring to anti-independence statements from business leaders and leaked information over Royal Bank of Scotland plans to move headquarters to England Alex Salmond said today that David Cameron’s fingerprints were all over a “scaremongering campaign” against Scottish independence.

Additional reporting by Reuters