UK & World News

  • 14 March 2014, 19:57

Scotland Referendum: PM Dangles Enticing Carrot

The "no" campaign for Scottish independence is riding high as it is firmly ahead in the polls.

Over half of Scots say they will vote no, with around a third backing independence.

And it has been boosted by some unexpected interventions that raised doubts about whether a Scotland outside the UK could keep the pound or its position in the European Union.

David Cameron has listed some of them - including comments by Mark Carney, the Governor the Bank of England and Jose Manuel Barosso, the EU commission president.

Mr Carney warned of "clear risks" associated with the economics of Scottish independence, adding the country would have to surrender some of its sovereignty if it were to retain the pound.

Mr Barosso said an independent Scotland joining the European Union would be "extremely difficult, if not impossible".

The Prime Minister also dangled an enticing carrot in front of the Scottish electorate. Vote no and I promise further devolution, he told them.

More tax raising powers for a Scottish Government still inside the UK.

Mr Cameron said: "Let me be absolutely clear: a vote for 'no' is not a vote for 'no change'.

"We are committed to making devolution work better still."

It is a clever move, because it does appear to be what the Scottish public wants: more freedoms without full independence.

And it isn't surprising that the Prime Minister is making this pledge - Mr Cameron is desperate to hold onto Scotland. The most cynical may ask why?

After all - if this left-leaning country separates from the UK, the Conservatives could secure power for a generation.

Yet he is passionate about being a one-nation Tory - and he would be devastated to oversee the break-up of the United Kingdom.

Moreover, if it happens his own position could be under threat.

So expect to see more of the Prime Minister and his colleagues north of the border in the coming months. They know they can't be complacent.

After all, just look at what happened in 1995 when the people of Quebec were given the chance to vote on independence from Canada.

A year or more out, the polls did not look too different to those here. Then the wind changed - and the independence campaign surged only just losing out in an unexpectedly close result - 49.4% to 50.5%.

Scotland's First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond has accused Westminster of bully-boy tactics. The Prime Minister refutes that.

But he will also be wary of what might happen if the SNP's plucky under-dog rhetoric takes hold firing momentum into the as-yet sluggish "yes" campaign.

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