DCSIMG

David Cameron sets out case in defence of Union

Cameron criticised the SNP government for giving the illusion that the referendum result was already 'in the bag'. Picture: Getty

Cameron criticised the SNP government for giving the illusion that the referendum result was already 'in the bag'. Picture: Getty

  • by TOM PETERKIN
 

PRIME Minister David Cameron last night launched a defence of the United Kingdom as his government prepared to put the “facts” about Scottish independence to the ­public.

The Coalition leader said that while there was “no question” that Scotland could become a separate country, staying in the UK would give Scots the “best of both worlds.”

Cameron also criticised the SNP government for giving the illusion that the referendum result was already “in the bag” by last week’s publication of a transition document which set out a timetable for full statehood following a Yes vote in 2014.

Underlining his determination to keep Scotland within the Union, Cameron said: “Britain is admired around the world as a source of prosperity, power and security.

“Those glorious Olympics last summer reminded us just what we were capable of when we pull together: Scottish, English, Welsh, Northern Irish, all in the same boat – sometimes literally.

“If you told many people watching those Olympics around the world that we were going to erect barriers between our people, they’d probably be baffled. Put ­simply: Britain works. Britain works well. Why break it?”

Speaking before tomorrow’s publication of the first in a series of analysis papers about Scotland’s role in the union, Cameron said he was addressing matters of the “heart and head”.

Britain has built up “world-renowned” institutions such as the NHS and BBC, he insisted and “fought for freedom” in two world wars, leaving “unbreakable bonds”.

He added: “But the case for the UK is about head as well as heart – our future as well as our past.

“I have no time for those who say there is no way Scotland could go it alone. I know first-hand the contribution Scotland and Scots make to Britain’s success – so for me there’s no question about whether Scotland could be an independent nation.

“The real question is whether it should – whether Scotland is stronger, safer, richer and fairer within our United Kingdom or outside it. And here, I believe, the answer is clear.”

Cameron said that as one of Scotland’s two governments, the UK Government has a duty to help inform people with hard facts. “So we’ll be providing expert-based analysis to explain Scotland’s place within the UK and how it might change with separation.”

The SNP responded last night by saying the Electoral Commission had called on both sides of the independence debate to provide more information to the people of Scotland and to work together to discuss what will happen in the wake of the referendum. “We have agreed with the Electoral Commission and published information about the transition to independence following a Yes vote,” said Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“The Prime Minister’s remarks suggest he is ignoring the Electoral Commission’s advice – despite the previous calls of the Westminster government for the Scottish Government to follow their advice. And instead of spelling out a positive case, David Cameron is continuing with an entirely negative attack.

“The pro-independence campaign is making the positive case and preparing for the future. By placing himself at the head of the No campaign, David Cameron is simply reminding people that he heads a government that Scotland didn’t vote for and that independence is the only way to ensure that Scotland always gets the government it votes for.”

The UK Government’s first analysis paper is being published on the same day as an economic framework for an independent Scotland. The proposals follow work by First Minister Alex Salmond’s council of economic advisers. Crawford Beveridge, chairman of the fiscal commission working group, said “The first report of the fiscal commission working group has confirmed that, by international standards, Scotland is a wealthy and productive country. In terms of output per capita it is on a par with many other successful independent countries.

“The proposition the fiscal commission working group will put forward is a workable blend of autonomy, cohesion and continuity. It is a well engineered model for day one of independence.”

‘We are four nations united for common good’ - An edited extract of David Cameron’s statement

Next year, Scots will be asked to make a huge political decision: whether to stay in the UK or go it alone. As Britain’s Prime Minister I’ve always been clear that this is a decision for people living in Scotland to make. But I do care passionately about the outcome – and I will make the case for the UK with everything I’ve got. For me that case comes down to two things: heart and head.

It’s about heart because our nations share a proud and emotional history. Over three centuries we have built world-renowned institutions like the NHS and BBC, fought for freedom and democracy in two world wars, and pioneered and traded around the world. Our ancestors explored the world together and our grandfathers went into battle together as do our kith and kin today – and this leaves deep, unbreakable bonds between the peoples of these islands.

But the case for the UK is about head as well as heart – our future as well as our past. I have no time for those who say there is no way Scotland could go it alone. I know first-hand the contribution Scotland and Scots make to Britain’s success – so for me there’s no question about whether Scotland could be an independent nation. The real question is whether it should – whether Scotland is stronger, safer, richer and fairer within our United Kingdom or outside it. Here, I believe, the answer is clear.

Britain is admired around the world as a source of prosperity, power and security. Those glorious Olympics last summer reminded us just what we are capable of when we pull together: Scottish, English, Welsh, Northern Irish, all in the same boat – sometimes literally. If you told many people watching those Olympics that we were going to erect barriers between our people, they’d probably be baffled. Put simply: Britain works. Britain works well. Why break it?

Of course there are difficult challenges to face and tough choices to make. There always are – in government and in our everyday lives. These wouldn’t disappear if Scotland broke apart from the UK. But those arguing for separation want to force you to make another choice – between Scotland and Britain. I say why should you be forced to make that choice?

Our United Kingdom is four nations united for the common good of all its citizens. With its own Scottish Government and Parliament within the UK, Scots can take important decisions affecting their daily lives. Scots can take all of these decisions and more to meet the specific needs of Scotland – and they can do so without losing the benefits of being part of the UK and having a full say in its future economic strength and opportunity, international influence and national security. Scotland within the UK has a system of government that offers the best of both worlds. Why swap Scottish MPs, Scottish cabinet ministers and Scots throughout UK institutions, for one Scottish Ambassador in London?

So what should happen from here until the vote? I know those arguing for independence are already preparing their separation transition plan, as though they’ve got this in the bag, but to me that is wrong. So we’ll be providing expert-based analysis to explain Scotland’s place within the UK and how it might change with separation. This big question is for Scotland to decide. But the answer matters to all of our United Kingdom.

 

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