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Scottish independence referendum: the final countdown

The best of both worlds: Alistair Carmichael outlines his top 3 reasons why Scotland is better off as part of the United Kingdom.

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In just 100 days, voters in Scotland will go to the polls to cast their vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

Ahead of the crucial vote, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said devolution has worked well for Scotland and can be made to work even better, offering a better future for Scotland than independence.

Outlining his top 3 reasons why Scotland is better off as part of the UK, he said:

Many milestones have already been marked on the road to the independence referendum as our nation prepares to make a significant choice - almost certainly the most significant decision many of us will make in a lifetime.

As we reach the 100 days to go mark, I see a marked shift in how people are viewing the crucial vote. Travelling around Scotland I have seen a growing appetite for debate and, alongside that, a continuing clamour for more information and facts.

I passionately believe that Scotland is, has been, and will remain, better off as part of the United Kingdom. Here are my top three reasons why:

Firstly, being part of the UK means Scotland has the best of both worlds, giving us far greater levels of economic security and international influence.

The UK’s broad shoulders mean that we can pool our resources and knowledge; sharing expertise and ideas. This means we have more money to spend on Scotland’s schools and hospitals thanks to higher public spending per head. And yet we have the security that, if something goes wrong such as when our banks failed, the UK is big enough to step in and provide the safety net we need.

Devolution is already working for Scotland with most of the decisions that matter to Scots taken in Scotland, backed up by the UK’s strength, stability and security and further devolution already in the pipeline as was highlighted in the Queen’s Speech. From April 2015, UK Stamp Duty Land Tax and Landfill tax will be switched off in Scotland and the Scottish Parliament will introduce new taxes to replace them. There will also be enhanced borrowing powers and, from April 2016, a Scottish rate of Income Tax will be introduced.

Secondly, as part of the UK, we get to keep the UK pound which is one of the world’s strongest and most stable currencies. Together we have a larger, stronger and more stable economy which protects our interest rates. This secures our pensions and keep our interest payments on mortgages and other borrowings low.

What we have is far too good to gamble. We’re being asked to make an irreversible decision not just for ourselves but also for our children and our grandchildren. There is no going back from a yes vote and there are no second chances. We must remember that this is not like a general election where we can vote again in five years.

I want my sons to grow up in a country where they can look forward to a prosperous future - a future in a United Kingdom where there are no borders and no barriers. I want them to be able to enjoy better opportunities and more secure jobs in a country where, as British citizens, they can receive support from the UK at home and abroad. They will know what currency they will have in their pockets and have confidence that it will be recognised worldwide.

I genuinely believe that we have a great future together. I fervently hope that, after September’s vote, that is what we can look forward to - a United Kingdom with a united future.

Thirdly, a no vote will allow us the chance to finish the job of devolution and to give the Scottish Parliament the powers (specifically over its own finances) that it needs. Devolution has been an outstanding success. It has brought control over our public services back to Scotland while still remaining part of a larger economy and major presence on the world stage.

I want now to continue building on that success. Next year the Scottish Parliament will get significant new tax and borrowing powers. In 2016 the parliament will have a power to set its own rate of income tax. I want to see us go even further than that and all political parties in Scotland agree. Devolution has worked well for Scotland and can be made to work even better. It offers a better future for Scotland than independence.

This is a huge decision and I know that people are feeling anxious about it. If you vote no, you are voting for more powers for Scotland and to keep all of the strength, security and stability of the UK. You don’t need to make a choice between the two. You can have both. You can have the best of both worlds.

Published 9 June 2014