With voter opinion polls showing single-digit margins over the call for Scotland to break away from the U.K., two of England’s most visible leaders — Prime Minister David Cameron and Queen Elizabeth II — are speaking about the issue. Today, Cameron told Scots not to vote out of frustration, saying, “If you don’t like me, I won’t be here forever.”
Cameron spoke one day after a rally for Scottish independence, and a day after the queen briefly addressed an issue on which she has been publicly silent. Voters in Scotland will decide the issue on Thursday, Sept. 18.
Queen Elizabeth, who’s known for spending much of her summers at the royal family’s Balmoral estate in Scotland, spoke about the question after a church service there Sunday. According to The Times newspaper, she told someone in the crowd, “I hope people will think very carefully about the future.”
In a separate article, The Times reports that Alex Salmond, leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, is certain that the queen is “absolutely impartial” on the issue.
Thursday’s ballot will include the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” Today, Cameron told his audience in Aberdeen, Scotland, that they should all vote no.
From Edinburgh, NPR’s Ari Shapiro reports:
“Cameron’s speech was personal, passionate, and at times ominous. He warned that ‘independence would not be a trial separation; it would be a painful divorce.’
“He listed the many privileges that an independent Scotland would lose, in areas ranging from banking to health care to the military.
“Polls show that the race is very tight. Hundreds of thousands of people have already cast their ballots by mail. And turnout on Thursday is expected to be above 80 percent — higher than any election in Scottish history.”
Cameron said that dissatisfaction with the U.K.’s government — widely seen as more conservative than Scotland — shouldn’t lead voters to end a 300-year-old relationship.
“Head and heart and soul, we want you to stay,” he told the Aberdeen audience, according to Reuters.
Noting the measures Cameron’s office takes to shield him from heckling and other worries in Scotland, the news service concludes, “The visit was expected to last only hours.”