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Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Scotland says no to independence, yes to the United Kingdom in historic vote

After months of cam­paign­ing lead­ing up to an unprece­dent­ed, his­to­ry-mak­ing ref­er­en­dum on their coun­try’s future, the peo­ple of Scot­land have said no to inde­pen­dence and cho­sen to remain a part of the Unit­ed King­dom, accord­ing to unof­fi­cial counts released in thir­ty-one of thir­ty-two local jurisdictions.

As of around 10:30 PM Pacif­ic Time on Thurs­day Sep­tem­ber 18th (Sep­tem­ber 19th British Time), the vote against inde­pen­dence stood at 1,914,187 (55%) and the vote for inde­pen­dence was 1,539,920 (44.58%). Turnout across Scot­land was well above eighty per­cent, set­ting a new record for a stand­alone election.

The Bet­ter Togeth­er (No) cam­paign clinched its vic­to­ry with the dec­la­ra­tion of the vote in Fife, where 44.95% of vot­ers favored inde­pen­dence and 55.05% were opposed, almost exact­ly mir­ror­ing Scot­land as a whole.

Scot­land’s two largest cities were divid­ed on the ques­tion of inde­pen­dence. Glas­gow, the largest, vot­ed for an inde­pen­dent Scot­land, while Edin­burgh vot­ed to stay with the Unit­ed King­dom. Dundee City, North Lanark­shire, and West Dun­bar­ton­shire also vot­ed for inde­pen­dence. But all the oth­er coun­cils vot­ed no.

(The coun­cil of High­land, which is geo­graph­i­cal­ly very large but some­what small in terms of pop­u­la­tion, has yet to report any results.)

Scot­tish First Min­is­ter Alex Salmond, the face of the cam­paign for inde­pen­dence, stood before his sup­port­ers in Edin­burgh to con­cede and remind the U.K.‘s fed­er­al par­ties (the Con­ser­v­a­tives, Lib­er­al Democ­rats, and Labour) that his con­stituents would hold them to their pledges to grant it increased autonomy.

“The union­ist par­ties made vows late in the cam­paign to devolve more pow­ers to Scot­land,” Salmond not­ed dur­ing his remarks.

“Scot­land will expect these to be hon­oured in rapid course. As a reminder, we have been promised a sec­ond read­ing of a Scot­land Bill by March 27th next year… All Scots who par­tic­i­pat­ed in this ref­er­en­dum will demand that timetable is followed.”

A short time lat­er, Bet­ter Togeth­er leader Alis­tair Dar­ling stood before his exu­ber­ant sup­port­ers in Glas­gow to thank them and cel­e­brate victory.

“The peo­ple of Scot­land have spo­ken. We have cho­sen uni­ty over divi­sion,” Dar­ling said. Address­ing the elat­ed Bet­ter Togeth­er vol­un­teers, he declared, “You rep­re­sent the major­i­ty of opin­ion and your voic­es have been heard.”

He was inter­rupt­ed remarks sev­er­al times with rau­cous applause. “We’ve tak­en on the argu­ment and we’ve won. The silent have spoken.”

(The Scots­man has post­ed Dar­ling’s remarks in their entire­ty.)

On news of the out­come, the pound ster­ling jumped dra­mat­i­cal­ly against the dol­lar and the euro, reflect­ing a sense of relief from abroad that the Unit­ed King­dom would not be break­ing up with­in the next year and a half.

U.K. Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron has said he will address the nation short­ly (he already called Alis­tair Dar­ling to con­grat­u­late the No cam­paign), and Buck­ing­ham Palace has con­firmed that Her Majesty Queen Eliz­a­beth II will issue a state­ment com­ment­ing on the results as well. The queen, who is sup­posed to be above pol­i­tics, took no pub­lic or offi­cial posi­tion on the ref­er­en­dum, though com­men­ta­tors have sug­gest­ed that Britain’s roy­al fam­i­ly was pri­vate­ly hop­ing for a no vote.

UPDATE: David Cameron has deliv­ered a state­ment in front of Num­ber Ten Down­ing Street, prais­ing the out­come of the vote and promis­ing to deliv­er on promis­es to grant Scot­land more auton­o­my with­in the next year. He also stressed that the Unit­ed King­dom’s oth­er nations (Wales, Eng­land, North­ern Ire­land) should also have a greater say in the man­age­ment of their affairs.

Cameron also tweet­ed, “I’ve just spo­ken to Alex Salmond, con­grat­u­lat­ing him on a hard-fought cam­paign. I’m delight­ed the SNP will join talks on fur­ther devolution.”

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