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Cameron heads to Scotland to save the Union

PM, leader of the opposition, to skip today’s Question Time in the House of Commons and travel to Scottish cities to convince voters to choose ‘No’.

world Updated: Sep 10, 2014 07:34 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times

Top leaders — including Prime Minister David Cameron and leader of the opposition Ed Miliband — have taken the unprecedented step to skip Wednesday’s Question Time in the House of Commons, and instead travel together to Scotland to try and save the union before the September 18 referendum on independence.

It is rare for the leaders to skip Question Time, but ever since opinion polls indicated a close finish, the leaders opposing independence for Scotland have been scrambling to woo and influence voters to vote ‘No’ to the referendum question: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’

Over 200,000 postal ballots have already been cast as experts and columnists continued to make the case for either eventuality, some of them focussing on emotional reasons and pleading for the heart to prevail over the head.

Putting up a united front, the three top leaders — Cameron (Conservative), Miliband (Labour), Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats) said to voters in Scotland: “We want you to stay…There is a lot that divides us — but there’s one thing on which we agree passionately: the United Kingdom is better together.”

The decision to put on hold normal Westminster politics is another indication of the top priority the anti-independence parties have come to accord to the Scotland imbroglio that will have major implications for the future, whatever the outcome of the referendum.

Several Tory MPs want Cameron to travel to Buckingham Palace and formally advise Queen Elizabeth to intervene to save the union. So far, the monarch has remained neutral, but in the past she has spoken of the benefits to all of remaining within the United Kingdom.

There is also much talk in the Westminster village that Cameron may have to resign if Scotland votes for independence next Thursday.

Driven by distrust and dislike of Westminster and ‘London’, voter-support for Scotland’s independence has grown in recent days.

The latest poll released last night indicated an equal 50-50 percentage points for the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ votes.