Cameron urges Scotland not to go it alone

LONDON Sun Feb 10, 2013 2:07am GMT

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a news conference at the end of an European Union leaders summit meeting to discuss the European Union's long-term budget in Brussels February 8, 2013. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a news conference at the end of an European Union leaders summit meeting to discuss the European Union's long-term budget in Brussels February 8, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yves Herman

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LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron conceded on Sunday that Scotland had what it takes to be an independent nation, but said it currently enjoyed "the best of both worlds", imploring it not to break the United Kingdom apart.

Stepping up his government's campaign to hold Britain together ahead of an independence referendum expected next year, Cameron urged Scotland not to sever a union with England that dates back 306 years.

"Put simply: Britain works. Britain works well. Why break it?" he wrote in an article published in Scottish newspapers.

"This big question is for Scotland to decide. But the answer matters to all of our United Kingdom. Scotland is better off in Britain. We're all better off together and poorer apart."

Cameron's political future and historic legacy are on the line. He has pledged to contest the next British general election in 2015 and his own Conservative party would never forgive him if he presided over the break-up of a United Kingdom comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

London's main parties are campaigning jointly against independence, knowing that Alex Salmond's Scottish National Party (SNP) is an astute and highly motivated political machine that will spare no effort to win a vote on its flagship policy.

Tapping into an emotive cocktail of historical rivalry, opposing political tastes, and a perception that the British parliament in London does not nurture Scotland's national interests, the "Yes Scotland" campaign wants independence to be a reality by 2016.

PROBLEMS OF BREAK-UP

Scottish secession could create serious problems for the remainder of the United Kingdom.

Britain's Trident nuclear submarine fleet is based in Scotland, revenues from Scottish North Sea oil remain important to its coffers, and analysts say Britain would find it harder to maintain its voice in international bodies such as the U.N. Security Council as well as in European Union decision-making.

The SNP published a document this month suggesting the transition arrangements could be made within 16 months, and that Independence Day for Scotland could come in March 2016, a timetable opponents dismissed as unrealistic.

Opinion polls suggest support for independence has stalled. The latest put it at 32 percent and opposition at 47 percent. But Cameron and politicians from other parties remain nervous.

The government is expected to release the first of many policy papers on Scottish independence on Monday, analysing the legal and constitutional implications of a "Yes" vote.

One of the central planks of Cameron's argument is that Scotland already enjoys a high degree of autonomy through its own parliament, and he has hinted that it would be able to repatriate even more powers if it rejected full independence.

"I have no time for those who say there is no way Scotland could go it alone. I know first-hand the contribution Scotland and Scots make to Britain's success - so for me there's no question about whether Scotland could be an independent nation," Cameron writes.

"We want you to scrutinise, challenge and form your own opinion. This must not be a leap in the dark, but a decision made in the light of day."

(Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Comments (4)
2writestoo wrote:
The vote for a yes or no to independence will be taken singularly by the Scots, 38% of who would currently (according to the latest IPOs MORI survey) vote to take Scotland out of the UK. However if the electorate in England voted tomorrow, (according to today’s Telegraph ICM opinion poll) if they wished Scotland to leave the UK and become independent? 59 per cent of English voters want Scotland out. The perception by the English is that Scotland pro rata to England receives more from the Westminster coffers in respect of education, welfare, NHS, transport, military support, and social services to name but a few. Salmond has done an excellent job of milking the English, Irish and Welsh taxpayer for the benefit of the Scots however his call for Independence as a ruse to screw even more money from Westminster has backfired given the English want rid of him and Scotland with its population of 5 .2 million and 80% of its households who allegedly claim some sort of Westminster based state benefit.

Feb 09, 2013 1:19am GMT  --  Report as abuse
Phil999 wrote:
It appears that the more support there is from Wales, N Ireland and England in favour of an independent Scotland, the less support there is from the potential Scottish voters for a yes vote. Interesting is it not? It is surely greed and a deep rooted hatred of England in particular that is at the heart of things and anything that opposes the wishes of the rest of the UK is the way Scotland will vote. I think the UK is better with the inclusion of Scotland but the Scottish really do need to realise that we are all actually on the same side. However, if the Scots seriously want to drop themselves into an extremely difficult independence then let them go and shore up Hadrian’s Wall.

Feb 10, 2013 8:25am GMT  --  Report as abuse
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
Cameron urges Scotland not to go it alone

A Scotland exit from the U.K (which is a EU member state) could be viewed as a exit from the European Union.

A Scottish ‘exit’ (from the framework of the U.K within the EU) would involve a rather problematic precedent for the EU as a set in stone, political agreement.

Feb 10, 2013 12:01pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
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