Independence could diminish the UK’s voice on the world stage and deprive Scotland of the benefits of its collective clout, former Chancellor Ken Clarke has told business leaders.
He focused on the impact of independence on the UK and Scotland’s place in the world when he addressed the Institute of Director’s leadership conference in Aberdeen.
The UK Government’s Minister without Portfolio also said the result of next year’s referendum is far from being a foregone conclusion.
“We have experienced the worst financial crisis in my lifetime. The longest and deepest recession since the war. The global economy is still in a fragile state. The Middle East in turmoil. Worldwide terrorism is a serious threat,” the Tory MP said.
“Getting through all this requires us urgently to boost the United Kingdom’s voice in the world, not to diminish it. We need to improve our overseas presence, not cut it up into little segmented pieces.
“As the United Kingdom, we are one of the very most leading countries inside the largest economic bloc in the world: the EU. We are one of five countries with a permanent seat on the Security Council of the UN. We are members of the G8 and G20. These are unprecedented opportunities to fight for the best interests of our citizens.
“With one throw of the dice, Scottish independence would deprive Scotland of the benefits of this collective clout.”
Speaking on the eve of the day which marks exactly one year until the vote, Mr Clarke said: “Alex Salmond is having difficulty making his case but the result is very far from being a foregone conclusion. I personally hope that the result at the end of it all is a resounding No to independence.
“But I also hope that a second product of this several years of national soul searching is a resounding Yes to the United Kingdom. That would be good for Aberdeen, good for Scotland, good for England, good for us all.”
An SNP spokesman said: “Mr Clarke wants David Cameron to speak for Scotland on the world stage but with a Yes, we can speak with our own voice and that is so much better.
“It is not wise for a Tory minister to go to Aberdeen of all places to tell Scots that Westminster is best to look after our interests internationally given that successive Tory governments have regularly sold out one of Scotland’s most important industries, the fishing industry, in negotiations in Europe.
“With Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands, we can make Scotland’s wealth and resources work better for the people living in Scotland and that includes making much more of our great international reputation to deliver jobs and opportunities for the people of Scotland.”