Scotland divided as breakaway poll nears


Thousands of members of the Protestant Orange order have marched through Edinburgh in a show of strength against Scottish independence, as campaigning ahead of Thursday’s referendum entered its final weekend.


Organisers claimed up to 15,000 people attended the march on Saturday to show support for the United Kingdom.

Across Scotland, campaigners from both sides were pounding the streets as pro-unionists were forced to raise their game after a poll put the pro-independence camp ahead for the first time.

However, a new Survation poll on Saturday suggests the “No” campaign has regained its lead, recording 47 per cent support to the “Yes” camp’s 40.8 per cent, with 9 per cent undecided and 3.2 per cent unwilling to say.

An Opinium survey for Sunday’s Observer placed the “No” camp on 47.7 per cent and “Yes” on 42.3 per cent, with 10 per cent not voting or not sure.

An ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph found pro-independents had widened their lead to seven points, but used a small sample size.

The “Yes” campaign led by Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond has 35,000 volunteers delivering 2.6 million leaflets over the weekend.

Many in the unionist “No” campaign are wary of outsider interventions, including of last week’s visit by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Salmond predicted Scots would decide convincingly for independence.

“I’m afraid that Mr Cameron and his Tory friends in Downing Street, and their Labour frontmen in Scotland, are going to get their come-uppance next Thursday, because Scotland is going to go for yes in very substantial proportions.”

Business leaders and economists have issued a string of warnings about the risks of breaking from the 300-year-old union, and Saturday’s poll indicated their message was hitting home.

Some 40 per cent said their families would be financially worse off in an independent Scotland, against 27 per cent who believed the contrary.

The nationalists have reacted with anger at big businesses’ predictions, which they say are orchestrated by Westminster.

Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars said “scaremongering” business leaders would face a “day of reckoning” if Scotland votes for independence.

He threatened energy giant BP with nationalisation, although Salmond played down his remarks.

“The day after a ‘Yes’ vote will be a day of celebration for the people, not reckoning for big companies drawn into the ‘No’ campaign by Downing Street,” the SNP leader said.

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