17 Feb 2012

Plea by Cameron to Scots to retain United Kingdom

1:40 pm on 17 February 2012

British Prime Minister David Cameron has made an emotional plea to the Scottish people not to break up the United Kingdom, declaring they are all better off together.

Although a referendum on independence for Scotland will not happen until at least 2014, the ABC reports the battle for the hearts and minds of people north of the border has already begun.

Mr Cameron laid out the case against independence in a speech in Edinburgh.

"I come here today with one simple message. I hope and wish that Scotland will vote to remain part of the United Kingdom," he said.

He raised fears about the economic crisis and the increasingly uncertain world to point out why Scotland would be safer and wealthier as part of the United Kingdom.

"The union helps to make Scotland stronger, safer, richer and fairer," he told business leaders in Edinburgh castle.

"I believe that England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, we are stronger together than we ever would be apart," he said.

"Of course, Scotland could govern itself. So could England, but we do it so much better together."

The ABC reports Mr Cameron also met First Minister Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party, to thrash out the timing and form of the referendum, but little was agreed.

Both men refused to budge on whether voters should be given Mr Cameron's preference of just one straight question on independence or Mr Salmond's desire for a second option of further devolution of powers from London.

Mr Cameron said he was prepared to compromise, telling the Scots they could still vote 'no' and earn more freedom from Westminster.

But the ABC reports he gave no details of what concessions may be on offer.

Mr Salmond said Conservative governments had misled Scotland in the past with promises of greater powers.

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me," he said after the meeting.

"I don't think Scotland will be fooled twice."