With 100 days to go until Scotland votes on whether to leave the United Kingdom, Sky News has reported that the British government asked President Barack Obama to weigh into the debate.
At the G7 summit in Brussels last Friday the US President made comments that were pro-Union.
Obama said: “There is a referendum process in place and it is up to the people of Scotland. The United Kingdom has been an extraordinary partner to us. From the outside at least, it looks like things have worked pretty well.
“And we obviously have a deep interest in making sure that one of the closest allies we will ever have remains a strong, robust, united and effective partner. But ultimately these are decisions that are to be made by the folks there.”
Initially the pro-Union “Better Together” campaign seized on the comments as evidence that America wanted to see the United Kingdom remain intact. However the Scottish Government, which is run by the pro-independence Scottish National Party, hit back claiming Obama had been asked to make the comments.
Sky News correspondent Niall Paterson, in Edinburgh, said: “I have been speaking with a very senior source in the Scottish government who tells me he recently had a conversation with a similarly senior source within the US administration – very close to President Obama himself – who confirmed that President Obama’s remarks on Scottish independence followed a direct request from the UK government.
“More than that, the senior source within the US government claimed that President Obama’s remarks represented the minimum that they could say.
“I think, essentially, there are three ways you can look at all of this. First, that my source within the Scottish government is perhaps telling porkies, 100 days out from the referendum, to make political hay.
“The second way of looking at this is of course international leaders do speak to each other all the time, officials speak to each other all the time, and frankly, President Obama at a press conference such as that should have expected to receive a question on Scottish independence.
“He was never going to say, ‘I think an independent Scotland would be a great thing’.
“The third way to look at it, if this is all true, is that perhaps figures within the Scottish government such as the First Minister Alex Salmond would make the point that if David Cameron is having to request the assistance of the US president to weigh into the Scottish independence referendum debate then perhaps it is not the ‘Yes’ campaign that is on the back foot, it is the ‘Better Together’ campaign.”
The Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond responded to Obama’s comments by claiming that breaking up the United Kingdom would give America “two great friends”.
After a very long campaign the 100 days mark is turning into a watershed moment when the whole UK starts to get interested in the referendum. Even Britain’s number one Tennis player Andy Murray has got involved. Yesterday he complained to the Sunday Times that Salmond had flown the Scottish flag when he came to watch him win the men’s final at Wimbledon.
Salmond smuggled the flag into the court by hiding it in his wife’s handbag. He then waved it behind David Cameron, leaving Murray unimpressed despite the fact he is Scottish. Murray told the Times that Salmond: “seemed perfectly nice to me but I didn’t like it when he got the Scottish flag up at Wimbledon,” he added: “I started competing for Great Britain when I was 11.”
Mr Murray has previously stated that he will not tell anyone what his views are on independence, although his objection to the flag flying will lead people to conclude he is a unionist. He has also refused to confirm which country he would compete for if the breakup happens.
The latest aggregation of recent polls, published on 1st June, put the No to independence camp on 58 per cent and the Yes camp on 42 per cent. That means the campaign to defeat independence has a 16-point lead. The British Social Attitudes Survey has said that 21 percent of English voters want rid of Scotland.
If Scotland votes against independence all the major parties in Westminster plan to give the Scottish government more power. Under the proposals Scotland will basically run all of its own affairs with minimal involvement from London but they will continue to send MPs to Westminster.
The British government has warned that an independent Scotland would not be able to keep the pound as they fear this may make the currency unstable like the Euro. The SNP have responded by saying they will not pay their share of UK national debt if they cannot keep the pound. They say they will not take on their share of liabilities without having access to their share of assets.
They also plan to keep the Queen as Head of State, leading some to question whether this would mean Scotland would have an appointed governor for the first time.