David Cameron evoked his own family’s Scottish heritage as he delivered a heartfelt plea for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.
In his highest-profile intervention in the debate on Scottish independence, the Prime Minister warned that the world would lose “something very powerful and precious” if the UK’s “family of nations” broke up forever. But Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond accused Mr Cameron of making a “bogus” argument and repeated his challenge for the Prime Minister to agree to a head-to-head debate on the issue.
Mr Cameron called on the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland to send a message to Scotland as it prepares to vote on September 18: “We want you to stay.”
Independence would be bad for Scotland but would also leave the United Kingdom “deeply diminished” and would “rip the rug from under our own reputation” in the world, Mr Cameron said.
He warned supporters of the union that they have only “seven months to save the most extraordinary country in history”.
Separation would not only cost the UK some of its economic, political and diplomatic “clout” in the world, but would also tear up an “intricate tapestry” of human connections and relationships which mean that “for millions of people, there is no contradiction in being proud of your Scottishness, Englishness and Britishness – sometimes all at once”.
Recalling the name Cameron stems from the West Highlands, the Prime Minister said he was “proud” of his Scottish heritage and pointed out that the clan motto is “let us unite”.
Mr Cameron defended the decision to deliver the speech in London, arguing that he was making the case for the rest of the UK to speak out on the issue and stressed that he would soon be visiting Scotland along with the entire UK Cabinet.
The Prime Minister has previously acknowledged that his image as a “Tory toff from the Home Counties” does not make him a good figurehead for the No campaign in the referendum debate. But he said: “Frankly, I care far too much to stay out of it. This is personal.”