Belfast Telegraph

Scottish independence: Breaking up would be a painful divorce, warns Cameron

PM's last plea as Scots banks shift millions north

By Jim Armitage, Nigel Morris and Chris Green

David Cameron has made an emotional plea to the people of Scotland to reject independence, telling them that the UK was not just "any old country" and that millions of people would be "utterly heartbroken" if it was broken up.

The Prime Minister's appeal came as it emerged that Britain's banks have been quietly moving millions of banknotes north of the border to cope with any surge in demand by Scots to withdraw cash in the event of a Yes vote.

Sources said the moves have been taking place over the past week or so to make sure ATMs do not run out on Friday in the event of a panic reaction to a Yes vote.

Bankers stressed there had been no sign yet of any increase in the amount of withdrawals from deposit accounts or ATMs, pointing out that the Bank of England has pledged to stand behind all accounts for at least 18 months post-independence. But customers' concerns about the safety of their cash still linger. As a result, part of the banks' contingency plans has been to ship more cash to secure locations in Scotland in readiness to keep up with the potential increase in demand. A source at one bank said: "We are, of course, monitoring the situation very closely from hour to hour."

As the campaign enters its final 48 hours and polls suggest the outcome is too close to call, the two camps will mount a final drive to win over the dwindling number of undecided voters.

Speaking in Aberdeen, Mr Cameron argued that separation would mean a new currency for Scotland, families separated, pensions sliced up and a border created with England. He said a Scottish exit from the Union would be like "painstakingly building a home – and then walking out the door and throwing away the keys".

Mr Cameron also struck a note of passion that has been absent from much of the No campaign: "I speak for millions of people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – and many in Scotland, too – who would be utterly heartbroken by the break-up of the United Kingdom, utterly heartbroken to wake up on Friday morning to the end of the country we love." He said the vote would be irreversible, adding: "Independence would not be a trial separation. It would be a painful divorce."

Tackling his party's unpopularity in Scotland, he warned of the perils of a protest vote on Thursday. "If you don't like me, I won't be here for ever. If you don't like this government, it won't last for ever. But if you leave the UK, it will be for ever," he said.

Mr Cameron also paid lavish tribute to Scots' contribution to the "greatest example of democracy the world has ever known".

But Alex Salmond, the First Minister, retorted: "The next time he comes to Scotland it will not be to love-bomb or engage in desperate last-minute scaremongering, and following a Yes vote it will be to engage in serious post-referendum talks in the best interests of the people of Scotland and the rest of the UK, as pledged in the Edinburgh Agreement."

Donations: £4.5m to both camps

The Yes and No campaigns in the independence referendum have now received more than £4.5m in donations, new figures show.

Campaigners for independence have received £1,822,120 in donations, while those on the pro-Union side have banked £2,742,723.

The final set of figures released by the Electoral Commission before Thursday's vote show £130,000 of donations made from August 22 to September 5. Yes Scotland received £100,000 from William Tait Snr and £20,000 from former Royal Bank of Scotland chairman Sir George Mathewson.

Better Together did not receive any donations over the period but Let's Stay Together, a UK-wide group urging Scots to vote No, received £10,000 from Chelsea vice-president Joe Hemani.

Rally: London celebs back Union

Thousands of people have supported a last minute rally in central London where celebrity campaigners urged voters north of the border to stay part of the UK.

TV historian Dan Snow, who organised the event, was joined by Irish political activist and musician Bob Geldof and comedians Eddie Izzard and Al Murray to give passionate speeches about the Union, with just days to go until Scotland decides on independence. The speakers were cheered along by crowds at a bursting Trafalgar Square which was awash with Union flags. Snow, whose referendum campaign Let's Stay Together has drawn endorsements from dozens of high profile figures, said the rally was to show Scotland "that England cares".

But Yes Scotland strategist Stephen Noon said on Twitter: "In '95 Canadians made an effort to go to Quebec for their 'love rally'. For us, No can only manage a 10 min walk from Westminster."

Poll: Battle for gay vote continues

More than half of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Scots are backing independence, according to a poll.

The online poll of 2,163 Scottish readers of Europe's largest LGBT news service PinkNews found that 54% plan to vote Yes in Thursday's referendum – with 56% of Labour voters for independence.

The poll also found 44% plan to vote No while 2% remain undecided.

In contrast, the vast majority (87%) of the 1,204 non-Scottish readers polled on the website on Friday and Saturday said they opposed independence, with only 5% supportive. PinkNews editor Joseph Patrick McCormick said: "The battle for the gay vote indicates possibly just how close the vote for independence will be."

Facebook: Social media's hot topic

There were more than 10 million interactions on Facebook relating to the referendum on Scottish independence during a five-week period, new research has found.

The majority of the discussion was from Scotland – a total of 85% in the five weeks up until September 8.

The data, which looked at volume and not sentiment, suggests the Yes campaign has a slight lead in terms of the level of discussion, with more than 2.05 million interactions in Scotland, compared to 1.96m for the No campaign in the same period.

The Yes campaign page attracted 258,000 likes to the 182,000 of the No campaign and grew by 27% in the five-week period, compared to Better Together, which grew by 17%.

Facebook will launch an 'I'm A Voter' button for those in Scotland on referendum day allowing them to share with their friends that they have voted.

Borrowing: Higher risks warning

The cost of borrowing to fund public spending on schools, hospitals and roads would go up in an independent Scotland, the head of a leading insurer has said.

Mark Wilson, chief executive of Aviva, said the company would maintain its commitment to investments in Scottish infrastructure but warned of "increased risks" in the event of a Yes vote.

Mr Wilson said Aviva, which has more than 2,000 staff and a million customers in Scotland, is a long-standing investor in Scottish infrastructure and it would maintain its commitment.

"However, the cost of borrowing to fund important public infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals and roads, would almost certainly go up to cover the increased risk of being a smaller independent country," he added.

Horse race: Yes first past the post

A race between Yes and No horses has resulted in a win for the pro-independence camp.

The two-horse race saw Yes We Can storm to a four-length victory over its rival Neigh Thanks at Musselburgh racecourse.

The five-year-old gelding, ridden by Scottish jockey Rachael Grant, went to the front early on and stayed out of reach of Neigh Thanks running in the Better Together silks.

Renfrewshire trainer Jim Goldie, who supplied both horses for yesterday's race, said: "We're absolutely delighted. There was always going to be a winner and a loser, just like Thursday, and it was a close win in the end."

The Scottish independence referendum has now become the most popular political betting event of all time, according to Ladbrokes.

A No result is the odds-on favourite at 1/4 with a victory for Yes priced at 3/1.

Belfast Telegraph


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