Say no to independence, stars urge
More than 200 celebrities and public figures have urged Scotland to stay part of the UK ahead of the country's historic vote on independence.
Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Bruce Forsyth, Dame Judi Dench, Simon Cowell and Professor Stephen Hawking are among the famous names to sign an open letter to "voters of Scotland" in the build-up to next month's referendum.
The letter says: "The decision on whether to leave our shared country is, of course, absolutely yours alone.
"Nevertheless, that decision will have a huge effect on all of us in the rest of the United Kingdom.
"We want to let you know how very much we value our bonds of citizenship with you, and to express our hope that you will vote to renew them.
"What unites us is much greater than what divides us. Let's stay together."
The list of famous names, which includes Oscar and Grammy winners, Olympic medallists and a Nobel prize recipient, represents "the best of British talent and intellect" according to the Let's Stay Together campaign.
Olympic stars Sir Ben Ainslie, Tom Daley and Sir Steve Redgrave have added their signatures along with broadcasters Sir David Attenborough and Sir Michael Parkinson and Hollywood stars Helena Bonham Carter, Sir Patrick Stewart and Michael Douglas.
Lord Lloyd-Webber, Sting and Sir Cliff Richard are on the list, as are comedians David Walliams, Steve Coogan, Ronnie Corbett and Eddie Izzard.
Baroness Lawrence, whose teenage son Stephen was murdered by racists in 1993, has also backed the campaign.
All of the celebrities who have signed the letter are unable to vote in the referendum, organisers have said.
Famous Scots who have added their signatures include Corbett, former rugby star Kenny Logan, actress Louise Linton and TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher.
A spokesman for pro-independence campaign group Yes Scotland said: "It's great to know that Scotland has so many friends and admirers, and we know they will all continue to be our friends and admirers after we vote Yes on September 18.
"We're sure that everyone who genuinely has Scotland's interests at heart will be delighted in future years to see a fairer and more prosperous Scotland emerge using the great opportunities of independence to grow our economy and make an even bigger contribution on the global stage."
A spokesman for pro-union campaigners Better Together said: "It's great to have the support of so many well-known faces.
"Our friends and family in the other parts of the UK don't have a vote, but they do have a voice. The are using that voice to say one thing loud and clear - let's keep our UK family together."
The letter was organised by TV historians Tom Holland and Dan Snow ahead of the referendum on September 18.
A giant version of the open letter was presented near Tower Bridge in central London today as Snow and Holland were joined by TV presenters Ben Fogle and June Sarpong.
Apprentice star Lord Sugar, who has signed the letter, said: "It's for Scotland to decide how to vote but it has consequences for all of us. That's why so many of us have come together to say: let's stay together. We've achieved so much together and I know we can achieve so much more."
Members of the public will be encouraged to add their names to the letter when it goes on tour across the country this week.
Speaking near Tower Bridge, Snow said: " People are keen to sign and they're from every political background, they're from every social background, because down here in the rest of the UK we feel really strongly that we hope they stay.
"But we don't want to bully them, we're not telling them how to vote, we just hope they stay."
He added: "It's not about nationality, it's about people who live on this island and we're just saying we hope you stay. We haven't got a vote, all of the people on this don't have a vote, but we want to tell them how we feel."
Asked why he wanted Scotland to remain part of the UK, Snow replied: "Because the Scots are brilliant. Because the Scots make this country what it is.
"Because of all the things we've shared in the past, all the achievements we've had, all the exciting things going on at the present.
"I've travelled a lot across the rest of the world and I've seen what happens when people focus on division or on difference, and I've seen what happens when people focus on unity. For me, my experience, the latter is better."
He went on: "Some things are too important to be left to politicians.
"This is the biggest potential change to our country in generations and it will have an effect for generations to come. We don't have a vote, which is totally fine. But we have a right to say we hope we stay together."
Fogle said: "The reason I wanted to sign this letter is I'm not allowed a vote, but I'm allowed an opinion. That's part of living in a democracy.
"It's not about swaying votes or trying to change opinion. All we want is to let everyone up in Scotland know how we feel.
"I genuinely feel we are better together."