'Mission Impossible' as Scots rejects Independence

RSTV Bureau

brown_scotlandScotland on Friday rejected independence in a historic referendum and decided to remain in a 307-year-old union with the United Kingdom, in a relief to Prime Minister David Cameron.

With 30 out of Scotland’s 32 council areas having declared, the “No” side has an unbeatable lead of 1,877,252 votes to 1,512,688, official results confirmed on Friday .

The winning total needed was 1,852,828 and nationally, the margin of victory is about 55 per cent to 45 per cent.

Glasgow, Scotland’s largest council area and the third largest city in Britain, voted in favour of independence by 194,779 to 169,347, with Dundee, West Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire also voting “Yes”.

But Edinburgh, the nation’s capital, rejected independence by 194,638 to 123,927, while Aberdeen City voted “No” by a margin of more than 20,000 votes.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I’ve spoken to Alistair Darling (head of the pro-UK Better Together campaign) – and congratulated him on a well-fought campaign.”

After votes have been tallied, the chief counting officer, Mary Pitcaithly, in Edinburgh, is set to officially declare the result followed by a statement by Queen Elizabeth II.

More than 4.2 million people had registered to vote, 97 percent of those eligible, including residents as young as 16.

Polls suggest the result was too close to call. A final Ipsos MORI poll released on Thursday put support for the No side at 53 per cent and Yes at 47 per cent. The phone survey of 991 people has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Many questions, the currency independent Scotland would use, its status within the European Union and NATO, the fate of Britain’s nuclear-armed submarines, based at a Scottish port, remain uncertain or disputed after months of campaigning.

Early figures on Friday indicated the turnout for Scotland’s historic independence referendum could be the highest ever in the United Kingdom, for a vote that could break up the centuries-old union.

A survey released after polling stations closed said independence could be narrowly rejected, but both “Yes” and “No” campaigners said it was too close to call as counting was underway in Scotland’s 32 voting districts.

Prime Minister David Cameron promised greater powers for Scotland’s parliament in a last-minute bid to convince voters to stay in the union, prompting politicians in his Conservative party to call for the same treatment for England.

The question for voters at Scotland’s more than 5,000 polling stations was “Should Scotland be an independent country?” and they are asked to mark either “Yes” or “No”.

Deputy First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon told the news broadcaster that a no vote would be “a deep personal and political disappointment”, adding: “There is an appetite of change in Scotland, this country has changed forever.”