LEADING figures on both sides of the independence debate have made a fresh plea to voters with 200 days to go until the historic poll.
Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said only a Yes vote on September 18 would secure the powers that Scotland needs.
At the same time Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael called on Scots to consider what the impact of independence would be on key issues such as welfare, income tax and currency.
He urged people to use their vote “wisely”, stressing that the decision over the nation’s future was not one “to be taken lightly”
But Ms Sturgeon condemned the unionist parties for their failure to put together a joint package on additional powers for Scotland in the event of a No vote.- branding this “unacceptable”.
While Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are all expected to come up with separate plans about how devolution could be enhanced, the SNP depute leader said these would “fall short of what Scotland needs”.
Ms Sturgeon will address the issue in a speech on Monday where she will claim the unionist proposals have no guarantee of delivery and are lacking substance, saying they would mean that “responsibility for the vast majority of Scottish taxes would remain with Westminster”.
She will state: “That means we would not retain the benefits of our investment in childcare, nor the benefits of savings to welfare payments from getting more people into work. And we would remain powerless to protect Scotland from Westminster’s dismantling of the social security system.”
In addition she will argue there is a “lack of a common plan” from the three main parties who are opposed to independence.
The Deputy First Minister will say: “The other parties have also made it clear they will not produce a common plan for more powers.
“While it is not surprising that there will be no common offer to the people of Scotland, given that the parties cannot agree amongst, never mind between themselves, it is nevertheless unacceptable.
“And it is also the case that the option of more powers is not on the ballot paper in September - meaning that there is no way for the people of Scotland to guarantee that any offer of more powers will actually be delivered.
“The simple fact is that only a Yes vote will secure the powers Scotland needs.”
But Mr Carmichael insisted that “independence would have far-reaching consequences” for Scotland, as he argued the nation was “stronger and more secure as part of a United Kingdom”.
With the referendum “fast approaching” he said it was time for everyone to “turn their attention to how they intend to vote”
The UK Government minister stressed: “This is not a decision to be taken lightly - we cannot afford to gamble with our nation’s future - so that means making an informed choice and to do that we all need to get the facts.
“And nobody should think that this is not a decision that matters for them. Crucial decisions - like whether you keep the UK pound in your pocket and who will be a British citizen - rest on this vote. There are also a host of great British institutions - from the BBC and the National Lottery to the Met Office and our Olympic teams - who would have to be broken up in the event of independence.”
While polls have so far failed to show majority support for independence, the Scottish Secretary said it was still important to “guard against complacency”, adding: “This ballot is not won and the outcome will not be decided until the last vote is cast. Everyone who has a vote should use it - and use it wisely.”