Date
11 December 2017
Scottish nationalist leader Alex Salmond (left picture) speaks to supporters while unionists hold a final rally just hours after a historic vote to decide Scotland's future. Photos: Reuters
Scottish nationalist leader Alex Salmond (left picture) speaks to supporters while unionists hold a final rally just hours after a historic vote to decide Scotland's future. Photos: Reuters

Scotland: Moment of truth

Three centuries of union come down to “yes” or “no” as Scotland decides Thursday whether to leave the United Kingdom or stay.

With polls showing a tight contest, the outcome is in the hands of wavering voters among the four million people who will begin to cast their ballots in a matter of hours.

Many are 16-year-olds who are voting for the first time, a potential source of support for the secessionists.

In an intense final day of campaigning, leaders of both sides urged Scots to seize the reins of history in a vote that has divided families, friends and lovers but also electrified this country of 5.3 million, Reuters reported.

From the remote Scottish islands of the Atlantic to the toughest city estates of Glasgow, voters will be asked: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”.

Four surveys show support for independence at 48 percent compared with 52 percent for the union while a fifth has it even closer on 49 to 51 percent.

The surveys also show as many as 600,000 voters are undecided with just hours to go before polling stations open at 0600 GMT (2 p.m. Hong Kong time).

The government in London is facing the biggest internal threat to the United Kingdom since Ireland broke away nearly a century ago.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and corporate bigwigs and pop celebrities have united in a last-ditch effort to convince Scots that the United Kingdom is “Better Together”.

Alex Salmond, Scotland’s 59-year-old nationalist leader, has worked to narrow the gap with the pro-union side in a campaign in which he invoked 18th century economist Adam Smith and Scotland’s greatest poet Robert Burns to implore Scots to “wake up on Friday morning to the first day of a better country.”

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