Minister 'optimistic' for no vote in referendum

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Secretary of State for Scotland in the UK Alistair Carmichael told AA that current polls were showing a healthy lead for those who wish to remain the part of the UK.

Secretary of State for Scotland in the UK Alistair Carmichael told AA that current polls were showing a healthy lead for those who wish to remain the part of the UK.

by Inci Gundag

LONDON - Secretary of State for Scotland in the UK Alistair Carmichael says he is optimistic that the people of Scotland will vote to remain part of the UK in a referendum on Scottish independence in September.

Although current polls show that if the vote was conducted today 57 percent of Scots would vote no, Carmichael, who is from the island of Islay on the Inner Hebrides, says he is not taking anything for granted. ''Polls are snapshot, they are not a prediction, but I feel the force of argument is on our side," he said.

Scotland, as a part of the UK, is a major player on the world stage says Carmichael, "We are part of a big, strong economy with a well respected currency that can offer real shelter when the hard times come as it did with the financial crush in 2008."

Eleven per cent of people are undecided about how to cast their vote, according to the polls. When asked whether a large part of this group is comprised of young Scots, Carmichael says; "Interestingly I spent a lot of time talking to young Scots. My oldest son in fact is 16 and about to turn 17 and he and his friends are very much engaged in this debate". "I think what we are finding in fact is their views are not massively different from those 18 and over who always voted. Some are for "yes", a lot for "no"."

If there is a "yes" vote Scottish officials argue that keeping the pound makes sense for both Scotland and the rest of the UK. However, the Westminister government keeps stressing that independent Scotland will mean walking away from the pound.

In addition, reports saying that an independent Scotland would have to re-apply for membership in international institutions, including EU, NATO increases the number of "no" voters.

Four million Scottish voters will go to the polls on September 18. Scotland is not expected to entirely leave the UK before 2016, even if voters approve independence.

Next year marks the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, in which the English army was defeated during the First War of Scottish Independence.

By holding the referendum during a significant anniversary of Scottish history, the separatist Scottish National Party seeks to benefit from strong feelings of national identity. However, groups supportive of the Union and those concerned by the uncertainty of an independent Scotland's economics oppose the referendum.

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