Belfast Telegraph

Alistair Darling: Scottish independence referendum will go right to the wire

By Mark McLaughlin

The Scottish independence referendum will be a "race to the wire", the man leading the fight to keep the United Kingdom together has conceded.

With two weeks of campaigning to go until the historic vote, Better Together leader Alistair Darling said he was "absolutely confident" that Scots will reject independence at the ballot box.

The former chancellor spoke out after it was reported a source in his campaign team had conceded they could lose the September 18 referendum.

Scotland's Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "There's no doubt there's a spring in the step of the Yes campaign, we're feeling very up, very optimistic."

She added: "The word I kept hearing over the last few days, which I think just again speaks to something in Scotland, is 'exciting'. People feel excited by what we might be standing on the brink of."

Ms Sturgeon spoke out as she campaigned in the West Lothian town of Bathgate, where she was trying to persuade Labour supporters to vote Yes.

First Minister Alex Salmond has already said that "hundreds of thousands" of people who have previously voted Labour could back independence in the referendum.

"The evidence is, Labour supporters are moving in significant numbers to Yes," Ms Sturgeon said.

A YouGov poll earlier this week suggested support for independence had risen by eight percentage points in a month, with the survey finding that, when undecided voters were excluded, 53% of those questioned planned to vote No while 47% would back Yes.

But Mr Darling, who was visiting Aberdeen, said: "In every single poll there's ever been we've been ahead, there are more people in Scotland that are saying 'no thanks' to independence."

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