Did the British Government ask Barack Obama to speak out against Scottish independence?

A Scottish Government source told Sky Downing Street had intervened

Lizzie Dearden
Monday 09 June 2014 16:36 BST
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US President Barack Obama speaks next to David Cameron at a joint news conference after their meeting at the G7 summit in Brussels
US President Barack Obama speaks next to David Cameron at a joint news conference after their meeting at the G7 summit in Brussels (Reuters)

Barack Obama’s unexpected intervention in the Scottish independence debate may have come after a request from Downing Street, according to Government sources.

The US President gave a surprise boost to the “Better Together” campaign at the G7 summit in Brussels last week.

Standing next to David Cameron, he called on Britain to remain “a strong, robust, united and effective partner”.

He was asked to give his opinion on the vote at a press conference with just 100 days to go until the referendum.

Mr Obama began by stating that it was ultimately “up to the people of Scotland”, but added that the UK had been “an extraordinary partner” to the US and “it look[ed] like things have worked pretty well”.

He said: “We obviously have a deep interest in making sure that one of the closest allies we will ever have remains a strong, robust, united and effective partner.”

US diplomats have previously said that the country would stay out of both the independence and EU membership debates going on in the UK.

According to sources speaking to Sky, the President had been asked to state the British Government’s case to keep the union.

The broadcaster’s reporter, Niall Paterson, said “a very senior source” in the Scottish government claimed one of the President’s aides confirmed his comments followed a direct request from the UK Government.

There has been speculation that the “source” was lying to support the “yes” campaign or that contact with Mr Obama’s office was misinterpreted and he was merely responding to a question.

Downing Street has not yet responded to our request for a comment.

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