Scottish independence: Weirs’ donations top £5.5m

Colin and Chris Weir have donated to both Yes Scotland and the SNP. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Colin and Chris Weir have donated to both Yes Scotland and the SNP. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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LOTTERY winners Chris and Colin Weir have given a further £1 million to the SNP – meaning they have now donated a total of £5.5m to bankroll the drive for independence.

They each gave £500,000 to the SNP in the first quarter of this year, official Electoral Commission figures show.

It was revealed last week that the couple had given a total of £3.5m to the official Yes Scotland campaign. In addition, they donated £1m to the SNP in 2011.

Opposition parties say it shows SNP funding now comes from one source, undermining claims the independence campaign is a “grass-roots” movement.

An SNP spokesman said: “We thank all of our donors – big and small – for contributing to the success of the party, including consistently being ahead in the polls after eight years in government, which is a remarkable achievement. The SNP has never been in better shape – with a record membership of over 25,000 – and we are fighting fit to help achieve the Yes vote in September which is so important to Scotland’s future.”

The £1m donation from the Weirs – who won £161m on the EuroMillions lottery in 2011 – compares with just £49,789 from all other donors in the first three months of the year.

Scottish Labour’s constitutional spokesman, Drew Smith, said: “The Weirs are entirely entitled to spend their lottery winnings as they wish, but the revelation that the SNP and the Yes campaign are relying on just one family for their funding does rather undermine the Nationalists’ claims of a broad-based, grass-roots campaign.”

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “The SNP is clearly embarrassed such an overwhelming proportion of its funding is coming from one source. The fact is, if the Weirs hadn’t picked their lucky numbers, the independence movement would be millions of pounds worse off.”

In a letter published in The Scotsman last week, the couple defended their right to donate to the Yes movement and described their dismay at the criticism and abuse they have been subjected to as a result of their political beliefs.

They said: “As life-long supporters of independence, it would be strange if we did not support the Yes Scotland campaign. So that is what we have done, nothing more and nothing less.”

l THE thought of having Alex Salmond as first prime minister of an independent Scotland would make more than a third of Scots more likely to vote No in the referendum, a poll has found.

Support for independence is trailing ten points behind the No campaign, at almost 37 per cent, with nearly 17 per cent still undecided, according to the poll of 1,003 people conducted between 9 and 12 May.

When asked how “the thought of Alex Salmond being the first prime minister of an independent Scotland” would affect their intentions, 36 per cent said it would make them more likely to vote No.

But the SNP insisted its leader was “a tremendous asset”.

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