PRIME Minister David Cameron has appealed to Scots to vote to stay in the UK for the sake of their “children and grandchildren” when they go to the polls in the referendum this year.
In his New Year message, the Tory leader insisted it will be the biggest decision Scots have ever faced on 18 September.
He used his message to warn that there will be no let-up in the climate of austerity this year – with a pledge to “redouble” efforts to reduce the UK’s massive annual spending deficit.
Mr Cameron said 2014 would be an “important date in the history of the United Kingdom”.
He said: “The referendum vote will be the biggest decision Scotland has ever been asked to make.
“The outcome matters to all of us, wherever we live in the UK. This is not a vote for the next few years, but a vote that could change our country forever.
“Our family of nations is at its best when we work together with shared interest and common purpose. This year, let the message go out from England, Wales and Northern Ireland to everyone in Scotland. We want you to stay – and together we can build an even stronger United Kingdom for our children and grandchildren.”
Mr Cameron’s comments were dismissed by Nationalists who again stepped up calls for him to face First Minister Alex Salmond in a live televised debate ahead of the historic vote.
MSP Annabelle Ewing said: “David Cameron’s New Year message confirms that the No campaign is Tory-led and Westminster-led.
“But while the Prime Minister is keen for his government to be at the centre of the No campaign, he is too frightened to debate with First Minister Alex Salmond.
“David Cameron’s New Year resolution should be to acquire some courage, and debate Mr Salmond face to face.”
The Prime Minister said the coalition government inherited an economy “on its knees” when it came to power three and a half years ago and embarked on a radical regime of public spending cuts, dubbed the “climate of austerity”, in an effort to drive down the UK’s annual deficit – the shortfall between public spending and taxes raised to fund this.
But the Prime Minister said he believed the country was now “turning a corner.”
He said: “We see it in the businesses that are opening up, the people who are getting decent jobs, the factories that are making British goods and selling them to the world again. The plan is working.
“That’s why this year, 2014, we are not just going to stick to the plan – we are going to redouble our efforts to deliver every part of it, to benefit the whole country and secure a better future for everyone.
“We’ll continue with the vital work on the deficit. We’ve reduced it by a third already and this year we will continue that difficult work, to safeguard our economy for the long term, keep mortgage rates low and help families across Britain.”
Unemployment has been falling in recent months and Mr Cameron said the creation of more jobs will be at the heart of the government’s plans.