Gordon Brown attacks No campaign’s negativity

Gordon Brown believes David Cameron should debate Alex Salmond over independence. Picture: John Devlin
Gordon Brown believes David Cameron should debate Alex Salmond over independence. Picture: John Devlin
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FORMER Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned voters “you can lose a country by mistake” as he tacitly admitted the Yes campaign could clinch the referendum poll in September.

Speaking at the Commons Press Gallery lunch, Mr Brown also attacked the negativity of the campaign, where pro-UK politicians have defined it as what Scotland will not have if there is a Yes vote.

He also said he thought David Cameron should debate with Alex Salmond on television about the referendum.

In what was billed as temporary return to frontline politics Mr Brown told his audience that the constitutional debate in Scotland has already changed Britain forever. He said: “Think about it. Dead and buried is the idea of a unitary state parliament. Dead and buried is the idea of Westminster sovereignty. Dead and buried is the idea of the sovereignty of the Queen in parliament. That has given away to popular sovereignty where referendums will decide big issues.”

He went on: “There is more to come. If Britain does not wake up then there will be home rule for Scotland within the United Kingdom as a minimum. We are as close to federalism as you can get in a country where 85 per cent of the population are in only one part of the country [England].”

He claimed that the issue of creating a British identity was vital. He said: “You have got to build Britishness around ideas in this country. I believe in liberty, I believe in fairness, I believe in social responsibility. That’s not just an abstract.”

But voicing his fears for the campaign and warning Yes could win he said: “Countries can be lost by mistake.

“If people come up to Scotland and say Britain says no to Scotland sharing the currency, Britain says you are not going to have defence jobs or Britain says you are going to go bankrupt. Or last week Britain says if you vote for independence you will lose your fish and chips, you will lose your pies and you will lose your holidays, in a patronising way that ought to be withdrawn immediately, then it is obvious the issue will become Scotland versus Britain.

“Then people will say ‘do you stand up for Scotland or are you for Britain?’”

SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said: “The fact that even Gordon Brown recognises the need for a First Minister to Prime Minister debate speaks volumes – and will be a source of huge embarrassment for Alistair Darling, who just this week claimed that he was the man to debate the First Minister.”