THE QUEEN tonight led calls for Scotland and the wider UK to unite and look to the future in the wake of the referendum result.
In an unusual move that reflected the momentous nature of the day’s events, the Monarch, who normally avoids any political matters, hailed the UK’s “robust democratic tradtion” but said now was the time to find common ground.
Her statement said: “After many months of discussion, debate, and careful thought, we now know the outcome of the Referendum, and it is a result that all of us throughout the United Kingdom will respect.
“For many in Scotland and elsewhere today, there will be strong feelings and contrasting emotions - among family, friends and neighbours. That, of course, is the nature of the robust democratic tradition we enjoy in this country. But I have no doubt that these emotions will be tempered by an understanding of the feelings of others.
“Now, as we move forward, we should remember that despite the range of views that have been expressed, we have in common an enduring love of Scotland, which is one of the things that helps to unite us all.
“Knowing the people of Scotland as I do, I have no doubt that Scots, like others throughout the United Kingdom, are able to express strongly-held opinions before coming together again in a spirit of mutual respect and support, to work constructively for the future of Scotland and indeed all parts of this country.
“My family and I will do all we can to help and support you in this important task.”
In the aftermath of a two-year campaign that aroused strong passions on both sides of the referendum divide, business, church and other civic leaders said it was time for the country to move on from the question of independence.
In a statement, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, which is made up of all Catholic Bishops north of the border, said: “The vast majority of Scots engaged with the referendum and it is our hope that we can all now co-operate for the benefit of our nation in future.
Many industry bodies and interest groups suggested the referendum campaign had left little room to debate other important issues facing Scotland which now needed to be addressed.
Business groups welcomed the end of a prolonged period of uncertainty.
Bryan Buchan, chief executive of Scottish Engineering, said companies could now “focus” on their day to day business.
“There has undoubtedly been some “marking time” on investment by the larger organisations and we would anticipate that projects will now move forward, as will business growth, given the future is now more assured, and we have an open field for the hugely important UK market.”
Peter Bennie, chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland, said: “Now that we have the referendum result, it is time to deal with the big challenges facing the NHS in Scotland. Our population is growing and it is getting older. More people are living with chronic disease and often have complex care needs. All of this means that there is rising demand for NHS services.“