SHAFAQNA- Scottish voters resoundingly rejected independence Thursday in a historic referendum that shook the country to its core.
The vote’s results announced Friday prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to Britain’s economic and political establishment, including Prime Minister David Cameron, who faced calls for his resignation if Scotland had broken away.
In Thursday’s referendum, 55% were against independence to 45% in favour. There was an unprecedented turnout of just under 85%.
“We have chosen unity over division,” Alistair Darling, head of the No campaign, said early Friday in Glasgow. “Today is a momentous day for Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole.”
In the initial euphoria after the result, the pound rose to a high of $1.6509. Britain’s FTSE 100 index was also one of the best-performing stock markets in Europe, trading 0.7% higher on the day.
A brief look at the winners and losers of the night:
WINNERS: The 55.3% of Scottish voters who wanted to stay in the United Kingdom.
LOSERS: The 44.7% who disagreed.
WINNER: Gordon Brown. The former prime minister broke out of what seemed to be a long sulk since losing the 2010 election, and delivered a barnstorming defense of the United Kingdom which gave the No campaign some badly needed energy in the final days.
LOSER and WINNER: Alex Salmond. The leader of the Scottish National Party, which exists mainly to pursue independence, went down fighting for what he called a once-in-a-lifetime chance to win back the nation’s independence. He led a campaign that energized all of Scotland. And in losing, he gained promises from U.K. political leaders of important new power for the Scottish government.
WINNER: David Cameron. The prime minister stood to be in trouble if the vote had gone the other way. However, his promise of more powers for the regions may cause grumbling in his Conservative Party.
WINNER: J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter author, who gave 1 million pounds ($1.78-million) to the No campaign.
LOSERS: Chris and Colin Weir, who gave 1 million pounds ($1.78-million) to the Yes campaign, leaving them with barely more than 160 million pounds from their Euromillions lottery win.
WINNER: The British pound. It sank toward the end of the campaign because markets loathe uncertainty. It bounced back smartly once the votes were counted.
WINNER? Queen Elizabeth II, whose Delphic comment urging Scots to “think very carefully about the future” was widely interpreted as a nudge for the No campaign. Perhaps it was just common sense.
WINNER: Democracy: Nearly 85% of eligible voters participated in the decision.
Source: National Post