SCOTLAND SAYS ‘NO’ TO INDEPENDENCE

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A man touches the memorial of William Wallace, who led the Scottish rebellion against Edward I, in Smithfield, London September 18, 2014. Reuters/LUKE MACGREGOR
A man touches the memorial of William Wallace, who led the Scottish rebellion against Edward I, in Smithfield, London September 18, 2014. Reuters/LUKE MACGREGOR

SIGH OF RELIEF IN UK AND WORLD MARKETS AS 55PC VOTERS REJECT CALL FOR FREEDOM

EDINBURGH (IANS) The “No” campaign won the Scottish referendum Friday to keep the territory within the United Kingdom.

Chief Counting Officers Mary Pitcaithly and Sue Bruce for the city of Edinburgh announced that 55.42 percent of the Scots voted against call for independence while 44.58 percent voted in favour, Xinhua reported.

With a turnout of 84.48 percent, vote counting started immediately after the polling stations closed Thursday night. The referendum was overseen by the British Electoral Commission, an independent elections watchdog and regulator of party and election finance.

This is the first Scottish referendum for independence in Britain’s history and official figures showed that about 97 percent of those eligible to vote in Scotland signed up to vote in the referendum, which was the biggest poll in Scotland’s history.

If a simple majority of Scots voted for independence, Scotland would have become independent March 24, 2016, after a period of negotiations with the rest of Britain, according to the white paper, “Scotland’s Future”, published by the Scottish government Nov 26, 2013.

As the “No” campaign has won, Scotland will have more powers as promised by the leaders of the three main parties in London, namely, Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader David Cameron, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democratic Party leader Nick Clegg.

In October 2012, Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, leader of the ruling Scottish National Party, signed the Edinburgh Agreement, allowing Scotland to hold a referendum on independence in the autumn of 2014.

It is also the third referendum for Scotland after the two previous ones held respectively in 1979 and 1997 on Scottish devolution.

The referendum in 1979 failed to gain the mandatory 40 percent support of the electorate, while that in 1997 succeeded with an overwhelming majority of voters backing devolution.

As a devolved legislature, the Scottish parliament was reconvened in 1999 with authorities over some limited areas of home affairs, and the parliament of the United Kingdom keeps “reserved” powers including the ability to amend the terms of reference of the Scottish parliament.

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”, BBC reported.

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.

There have also been big wins for the pro-UK campaign in many other areas.

The vote is the culmination of a two-year campaign.

Talks will now begin on devolving more powers to Scotland.

This margin of victory is some three points greater than that anticipated by the final opinion polls.

Salmond, who led the pro-independence “Yes” campaign, accepted defeat in the referendum.

In his first public comment since the results started coming in, Salmond tweeted: “Well done to Glasgow, our Commonwealth city, and to the people of Scotland for such incredible support.”

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