SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Scotland began voting in an independence referendum on Thursday that will decide the fate of the United Kingdom, after opinion polls showed hundreds of thousands of them were still undecided whether to stay with the 307-year union or back secession. In the final hours before polling stations opened, leaders of “Yes” and “No” campaigns urged Scots to vote.
Voters are being asked to answer “Yes” or “No” to the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” “This is an historic day for Scotland. I’ve waited all my life for this. It’s time to break with England. ‘Yes’ to independence,” said a businessman who gave his name as Ron and was the first person to vote at Edinburgh’s Waverley Court.
“This is our opportunity of a lifetime and we must seize it with both hands,” Alex Salmond, Scotland’s 59-year-old nationalist leader, told hundreds of supporters who waved the white on blue Scottish flag and chanted “Yes we can.” “Scotland’s future must be in Scotland’s hands,” Salmond said in Perth, a city in eastern Scotland 460 miles (740 km) north of London.
The independence movement says Scots should be able to choose their own leaders and make their own decisions rather than be ruled from London. Supporters of the union say Scotland is more prosperous and secure as part of the United Kingdom and the ties that bind them are too tight to be undone.
In the event of a vote for independence, Britain and Scotland would face 18 months of talks on how to carve up North Sea oil and what to do about European Union membership and Britain’s main nuclear submarine base. The prospect of breaking up the United Kingdom, the world’s sixth-largest economy and a veto wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, has prompted citizens and allies alike to ponder what would be left, while the financiers of the City of London have warned of market turmoil.