Scotland independence: All eyes on ballot
British PM Cameron said the break-up would be a 'painful divorce'
Edinburgh: Scotland began voting on Thursday on whether to become independent from Britain in a referendum which has electrified the nation, dominating debate in homes and pubs from Edinburgh to the Highlands. While the outcome looks too close to call, the pro-independence camp has seen support surge in recent weeks as the “No” side’s long-term lead in the polls shrivelled away.
“This is our opportunity of a lifetime,” Scotland’s pro-independence First Minister, Alex Salmond, told a cheering crowd of supporters in Perth on Wednesday. “It’s the greatest, most empowering moment that any of us will ever have,” he said, as supporters waved Scottish flags and chanted “Yes we can!” British Prime Minister David Cameron has pleaded with Scots to vote in favour of staying in “our home” and has warned that the break-up would be a “painful divorce” full of economic uncertainty.
If Scots vote “Yes”, it could force Cameron to resign and might raise serious questions about Britain’s status on the international stage.It is being closely watched in other parts of the world with strong separatist movements, particularly in the Spanish region of Catalonia where many are now also clamouring for a vote. US President Barack Obama, leader of Britain’s closest ally, weighed in Wednesday saying that he hoped the UK would remain “strong, robust, united.”
A record turnout of around 80 per cent is expected in the referendum after 97 per cent of people eligible to vote registered, almost 4.3 million people. Polling stations close at 2100 GMT and results are likely to emerge on Friday.
( Source : PTI )