Prime Minister David Cameron travelled to Scotland last week pleading with Scots to vote no in the referendum to keep the UK united
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron was in Scotland last Wednesday pleading with the Scottish people not to rip apart Britain’s “family of nations”. Cameron hopes he can try to reverse the last minute increase in support for Scotland’s secession from the United Kingdom.
Both Cameron and opposition leader Ed Miliband agreed to postpone their parliament’s weekly question and answer session to separately travel to Scotland to speak against independence.
“We do not want this family of nations ripped apart,” said Cameron of the 307 year old union. “The United Kingdom is a precious and special country.”
On Sept. 18, Scots will go to the polls and decide the fate of their nation. They will be asked the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?” responding either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. A simple majority of 50% + 1 decides Britain’s fate.
Cameron faces the very real risk of losing his position as Prime Minister should Scotland secede, and up until last week’s surge in secessionist support, had been largely absent from the independence debate. His right-of-centre political leanings make him unlikely to win much influence over the Scots, who historically vote much more liberal than the rest of the U.K.
The Prime Minister, opposition leader Miliband, and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg all journeyed to Scotland last week to speak in major cities. They were surrounded by supporters holding signs for a united U.K. and wearing clothes branded with ‘No’. Scotland nationalist leader Alex Salmond, champion of the ‘Yes’ cause, said that the visits were a clear sign of panic that could only have the opposite of their intended effects.
“They should’ve been up here ages ago. Instead, they’re having a wee day trip, paid for by expenses,” said Salmond. “There’s so much at stake, and it seems so real already, I just hope we make it.”
Polls in recent weeks have shown a huge surge in support for independence, creating an internal struggle in the U.K. With the prospect of independence comes many questions: what happens to the 2015 national election, the structure of the U.K., state symbols, and the role of the monarchy?
Scotland has been coming alive with activity as the vote nears. Independence is being hotly debated on television, in meeting halls, pubs, and on street corners. Scottish newspapers have been filled with talk about independence, with letters supporting and denouncing the referendum from Scots and Englishmen alike.
The ‘Yes’ side believes that Scotland could build a better country if it had more direct control over its own affairs, while ‘No’ supporters say that independence would usher in years of economic and political uncertainty, causing Scotland to maybe even lose the pound as its official currency.
Cameron and the Unionist campaign have been criticized for allowing the case against Scottish independence to become too negative, focusing only on divisions and economic aspects instead of trying to celebrate the United Kingdom as a complete country of nations.
“If the U.K. lost Scotland, it would be diminished,” said John Major, Britain’s Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997. “We face a constitutional revolution.”