Cameron direct plea to Scots Tories: ‘Independence will break my heart’
Party rally in Perth hears prime minister associate ‘pride and patriotism’ to voting for Scotland to remain united with rest of UK.
David Cameron says a vote backing independence for Scotland would “break his heart”, a view he gave as he confirmed £500m in special funding for Glasgow for investment in road and rail infrastructure and job creation schemes.
The prime minister, during a short party rally in Perth, made a direct plea to Scots Tory activists, asking them to fight harder to “save the UK” and urging them to see the anti-independence case as an emotional, patriotic, cause.
“We’ve had all the arguments and it’s an issue of the heart,” he told the Conservative Friends of the Union rally. “It would break my heart to see our United Kingdom broken apart.”
He added: “Separation isn’t for a trial period, it would be permanent.”
Cameron cited the death of his Scots Canadian great, great uncle, Captain John Geddes, in the battle of Ypres in the first world war, telling the audience that in June he had shown other EU leaders his ancestor’s name inscribed on the Menin Gate memorial, in Belgium – as evidence of Scotland’s stake in the union.
To applause and shouts of “hear, hear”, Cameron said unionists and the “silent majority” who supported a no vote should reject the Scottish nationalist argument that “you can’t be patriotic and a proud Scot if you want to stay in the United Kingdom”. He added: “I think it’s nonsense.”
To underline a carefully choreographed sequence of events designed to bolster his government’s case against independence, Cameron reminded activists that he would be at Rosyth dockyard on Friday to join the Queen as she officially named the Royal Navy‘s new £3bn aircraft carrier, Queen Elizabeth II.
The carrier project, which has been dogged by spending cuts and delays, was evidence of the extra economic and military security which Scotland gained from the UK, he said. “In a dangerous world, doesn’t it make sense for us to stay together?” he added.
Six hours before the rally Cameron announced that the Treasury had given £500m to Labour-controlled Glasgow city council from its City Deals funding programme for investment in new road, bus, rail and employment projects over the next 20 years.
The programme would include resurrecting a £210m rail link project from central Glasgow to the Glasgow airport, a project killed off controversially by Alex Salmond’s government in 2009.
Glasgow is the first city outside England to benefit from City Deals funding: in a further indication of the UK’s government’s determination to fight off independence the scheme was first unveiled in 2011 as an England-only initiative to bolster economic investment in city regions such as Manchester, Birmingham and the Newcastle area.
In a frosty response, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s deputy first minister, said Scotland’s government would take up Cameron’s challenge to match that Treasury funding pound for pound. She implied that £500m was a modest, barely concealed, bribe: it was worth only £15m a year for the first five years, and future funding hung on a review of spending in five years’ time.
The sum was dwarfed by her government’s existing £1.5bn spend in Glasgow, which included the new southern general hospital, Glasgow subway improvements and hosting of the Commonwealth games, she said.
- The Guardian,