Sunday 16 December 2018

Claim and counter-claim as both sides promise change

The two sides in Scotland's independence debate are scrambling to convert undecided voters, with just two days to go until the vote.

The pitch of the debate has grown increasingly shrill as both sides make their oft-repeated claims and promises with increasing urgency, and supporters square off at public appearances.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, who backs the anti-independence "Better Together" campaign, was surrounded by rival camps shouting "Vote Yes" and "Vote No" during a walkabout at an Edinburgh shopping centre. Miliband said he understood that "passions run high", but he hoped the debate would be conducted "in a civilised way".

Tomorrow's referendum could end a political union that has stood since 1707. Anti-independence campaigners argue that separation could send the economy into a tailspin.

The Yes side accuses its foes of scaremongering and says independence will give Scots political control and economic prosperity.

After a late poll surge for the pro-independence side, the No campaign is striving to persuade voters that they will gain more autonomy if they do not secede.

Prime Minister David Cameron, Miliband and Liberal Democrat chief Nick Clegg all signed a pledge published in the Daily Record newspaper promising Scots "extensive new powers" - including tax-raising authority - if they remain part of the United Kingdom.

Labour Party politician Douglas Alexander said a No vote meant "faster, safer, better change for Scotland", while independence would bring "risks, uncertainties and costs".

"With 48 hours to go, they can't even tell us what currency we'll be using," Alexander told No supporters in Edinburgh's financial district.

The pro-independence Scottish government says Scotland will continue to use sterling, but the British government insists it won't agree to a currency union.

The Yes campaign says the promises of new powers are vague and reveal the No side's desperation.

"This last-minute desperate offer of nothing is not going to dissuade people in Scotland from the huge opportunity of taking Scotland's future into Scotland's hands tomorrow," First Minister Alex Salmond told the BBC.


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