Scotland votes no in a historic independence referendum – by a margin of 55 per cent to 45 per cent – meaning the union will stay together.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond conceded defeat in his fight for Scottish independence, after a record turnout of 86 per cent. With the results in from all 32 council areas, the no side won with 2,001,926 votes over 1,617,989 for yes.
Mr Salmond said he accepted “the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland” and called on the leaders of the three main pro-union parties to live up to promises of further devolution they made during the referendum campaign.
I accept that verdict of the people and I call on all of Scotland to follow suit in accepting the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland. Alex Salmond
Despite winning a majority of votes in some areas – including the nation’s largest city Glasgow – the yes campaign failed to secure enough support to win the referendum, failing to take key targets like Clackmannanshire and the Western Isles and falling well behind in the capital Edinburgh.
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After a night of drama, the result became a mathematical certainty shortly after 6am, as the returning officer in Fife announced a comfortable majority for no in the county – where 114,148 voted yes and 139,788 no – made the result a mathematical certainty.
Mr Salmond said: “I accept that verdict of the people and I call on all of Scotland to follow suit in accepting the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland.
“Let us say something which I hope unites all campaigns and all Scots. I think the process by which we have made our decision as a nation reflects enormous credit on Scotland.
“A turnout of 86 per cent is one of the highest in the democratic world for any election or any referendum in history. This has been a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in politics.”
Mr Salmond’s deputy Nicola Sturgeon had already conceded defeat with a handful of results still to be declared, telling the BBC she felt a “real sense of disappointment that we have fallen narrowly short of securing a yes vote”.
Speaking outside Downing Street David Cameron said: “Scotland voted for a stronger Scottish parliament backed by the strength and security of the United Kingdom.
“I want to congratulate the no campaign for that, for showing people that our nations really are Better Together.”
The prime minister also pledged the unionist parties would follow through with their pledge of more powers for the Scottish Parliament.
Lord Smith of Kelvin, who led Glasgow’s staging of the Commonwealth Games, will oversee the process to take forward the commitments, with new powers over tax, spending and welfare to be agreed by November, and draft legislation published by January, Mr Cameron promised.
The prime minister also announced plans to devolve powers in other parts of the United Kingdom: “It is time for our United Kingdom to come together and to move forward.
“A vital part of that will be a balanced settlement fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.”
Alistair Darling, leader of the Better Together campaign, added: “The people of Scotland have spoken. We have chosen unity over division and positive change rather than needless separation.
“But as we celebrate, let us also listen. More than 85 per cent of the Scottish population has voted. People who were disengaged from politics have turned out in large numbers.
“And while they have voted on the constitution, that was not the only or perhaps the major issue that drove them to the polls.”