Speaking in London, Cameron, an Englishman whose Conservative
party has only one of 59 UK-wide seats in Scotland, made his most
passionate defense yet of the UK, which comprises England, Scotland,
Wales and Northern Ireland.
"We would be deeply diminished without Scotland," Cameron told an
audience in the cavernous London velodrome used for the 2012 Olympic
Games, saying he would fight with all he had to hold the country he
"Together, we get a seat at the U.N. Security Council, real clout in
NATO and Europe, and the prestige to host events like the G8. Make
no mistake: we matter more as a United Kingdom — politically,
militarily, diplomatically and culturally too.
If we lost Scotland, if the UK changed, we would rip the rug from
under our own reputation."
Scots will decide in a referendum on September 18 whether their
nation, which has a population of just over 5 million and is a
source of North Sea oil, should end its 307-year-old union with
England and leave the UK.
Cameron said a "yes" vote would imperil Britain's stability and
foreign direct investment.
"We are quite simply stronger as a bigger entity," he said. "That
stability is hugely attractive for investors. Last year, we were the
top destination for foreign direct investment in Europe. That is a
stamp of approval on our stability — and I would not want to
It would be extremely difficult to make a currency union with an
independent Scotland work, he added, casting further doubt on one of
the pro-independence camp's main policy ideas.
Political analysts say a "yes" vote would place the future of
Britain's Scotland-based nuclear submarine fleet in doubt and could
weaken London's claim to a permanent seat on the United Nations and
its influence in the European Union.
People close to Cameron say he does not want to go down in history
as the prime minister who lost Scotland. But he has conceded that
his privileged background and center-right politics mean he isn't
the best person to win over Scots, usually more left-wing than the
[to top of second column]
RESULT "UP IN THE AIR"
Polls show Scots would vote to reject independence if a vote were
held today, with only around a third keen to break away from the UK.
However, there are still many undecided voters and Cameron said the
outcome was "up in the air".
"Centuries of history hang in the balance. A question mark hangs
over the future of our United Kingdom. There can be no complacency
about the result," said Cameron.
Alex Salmond, the leader of the pro-independence Scottish National
Party (SNP), criticized Cameron for giving such a speech in England
instead of Scotland and challenged him to debate him, something
Cameron has so far refused to do.
"I don't think this is a prime minister who speaks for Britain, I
don't think he speaks for England, I think he speaks for a
Westminster elite who are totally and utterly out of touch," Salmond
told BBC TV, accusing the prime minister of politicizing the
Olympics of two years ago.
"The main thing is that this is a speech delivered from London,
ostensibly telling people in England what to do but actually arguing
against Scottish independence instead of a debate that the prime
minister must do in Scotland."
Cameron evoked the spirit of the 2012 London Olympics as an example
of how the UK's four nations work well together and said Scotland
already has a large measure of independence when it comes to health,
education and policing matters.
Tapping into an opinion poll earlier this month which showed people
in England and Wales want Scotland to stay in the UK, Cameron urged
the English, Welsh and Northern Irish to tell Scots: "We want you to
(Additional reporting by Estelle Shirbon and William James;
by Guy Faulconbridge)
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