SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: More than 200 celebrities and public figures have urged Scotland to vote No in the referendum on whether the country should leave the UK.
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 ahead of the vote on Scottish independence.
It 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 letter was organised by TV historians Tom Holland and Dan Snow ahead of the poll on September 18.
The list of 215 names which includes Oscar and Grammy winners, Olympic medallists and a Nobel prize recipient represents “the best of British talent and intellect” according to Let’s Stay Together campaign.
Snow said: “I feel passionately about Britain and everything we’ve achieved together throughout our long shared history across these islands. I don’t have a vote in the Scottish referendum but I certainly have a view and I really hope that our shared country stays together.
“That’s why Tom and I have brought together a list of people who represent the best of British and share that view. But more than the celebrities, this is the view of the majority of people in the rest of the UK.”
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 name to the letter when it goes on tour across the country this week.
The open letter was presented near Tower Bridge in central London today as historians Snow and Holland were joined by TV presenters Ben Fogle and June Sarpong.
Among the famous names to have signed the letter are Olympic stars Sir Ben Ainslie, Tom Daley and Sir Steve Redgrave, broadcasters Sir David Attenborough and Sir Michael Parkinson and Hollywood stars Helena Bonham-Carter, Sir Patrick Stewart and Michael Douglas.
Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sting and Sir Cliff Richard are also on the list along with 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.
Speaking near Tower Bridge, Snow said all of the celebrities who have signed the letter are unable to vote in the referendum.
“You’ve got Mick Jagger, Judi Dench, Steve Redgrave, Simon Cowell, David Walliams, Dame Vera Lynn, these people have found out about it and got in touch with us,” he 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.”
Famous Scottish people who have signed the letter include Corbett, former rugby star Kenny Logan, actress Louise Linton and TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher, Snow said.
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.”
Snow added: “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.”