Scottish independence: Nothing ‘more important’ to me than keeping UK together, says David Cameron
DAVID Cameron has declared there is nothing “more important” to him that keeping the United Kingdom together, as he indicated tonight that a deal to kick off Scotland’s referendum on independence will be signed next week.
Speaking to a Scottish reception at the Conservative conference in Birmingham, the Prime Minister said that despite the central issue of economic recovery, the debate about the future of the UK remained would be central to government thinking up until 2014.
“There are lots of things I want this coalition to achieve and there are lots we are achieving. But frankly, it is hard to think of anything more important to a Conservative than keeping our United Kingdom together,” he told delegates at the conference this evening.
It comes with Cameron set to make his keynote speech to the party conference on Wednesday and ahead of a meeting with First Minister Alex Salmond next week when the pair are expected to agree a deal on the terms of the referendum.
Mr Cameron said tonight that he had always been flexible on the timing of the date - which will be held to Mr Salmond’s preferred timetable - but said the “red line” for him had been to ask a single question on whether Scotland should be independent or not.
Mr Salmond had asked people whether they wanted a second question offering them “devo max” as an option, but has also stated he prefers a single question.
The Prime Minister confirmed he would be meeting Mr Salmond “relatively shortly”. He added: “I think we are going to be able to make a proper agreement about what is right and proper for Scotland.”
Turning to the campaign itself, and in a message he said was aimed both at English members of the audience as well as Scots, he argued that the main case the pro-Union case should make was that Scottish independence would damage the rest of the UK.
“It is very important that, of course, we believe there would be bad consequences if Scotland left the UK but the first point is that there would be bad consequences for the rest of us. We want to Scotland to stay for the rest of us. We want Scotland to stay because we believe we would be weaker apart,” he said.
His call appeared to be aimed at English Conservatives who have argued that Scottish independence should be encouraged, out of the view it would leave the rest of the UK better off, and deprive Labour of one of its strongest bases.
He also said that the argument in favour of the UK should not be “not just of the head but of the heart”
He added that the pro-UK campaign would also need to convince Scots who felt more Scottish than British that they could still believe in a United Kingdom.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West