Belfast Telegraph

Trimble warns Scots against split

A former first minister of Northern Ireland has accused Scottish Nationalists of "doing violence" to people's identity with their bid to take the country out of the United Kingdom.

Lord Trimble said that every Scot had a "British component" in their national identity, and that to "separate that is to do violence to people's own sense of identity".

The politician, who won a Nobel Prize for his efforts in the Northern Ireland peace process, spoke out at a rally for the Union at the Scottish Conservative conference in Troon in Ayrshire. Tory politicians from all four countries in the United Kingdom joined together to make the case for Scotland staying in the Union.

Lord Trimble argued that there was a "common component" in the national identity of people from all parts of the UK.

And he stated: "I have to say to Scottish Nationalists that by fighting for a programme of separatism, saying that you want to take Scotland out and take the Scottish identity out into a separate place, you are doing violence to part of the identity of every Scotsman, because there is a British component in the identity of every Scotsman. And to separate that is to do violence to people's own sense of identity."

Lord Trimble said people in Northern Ireland are "concerned about what is happening" in Scotland, with the SNP administration planning on holding a referendum on independence in autumn 2014.

He said Northern Ireland had "come out of a huge campaign that was intended to break the Union". But he said that had failed because of the efforts of the police and the armed forces, but also because "we won the political argument".

Lord Trimble, former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and now a Conservative peer, told the conference: "That political argument was crucial. And the argument we put to the people of Northern Ireland was all about the benefits of being in the United Kingdom, of how by being part of a larger unit our own particular difficulties could be more easily reconciled." He said that just as the case for staying in the UK had been made successfully in Northern Ireland, the same could happen in Scotland.

SNP MSP Humza Yousaf said later that Lord Trimble "appears to know as little about modern Scottish identity as David Cameron does".

He added: "This is exactly what David Cameron and Ruth Davidson didn't want - their much-promised positive case for the Union hasn't even survived the Tory launch event, and now lies in tatters. It is precisely this sort of negative nonsense that is so damaging to the Tory-led anti-independence campaign. Lord Trimble couldn't be more wrong about Scotland. Independence is the broad, inclusive and positive option for Scotland, in which the wide range of identities we have in our modern nation - Scottish, British, Pakistani, Chinese, Polish, Irish and many, many more - can all be reflected and celebrated."

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