Tension grows in Glasgow as demonstrators take to streets

Alex Salmond resigns after defeat in Scotland independence referendum

British Prime Minister David Cameron says the question of Scottish independence had been settled "for a generation" after what he calls a clear vote by Scots to stay part of the United Kingdom. Video: Reuters

 

Hundreds of people crowded into Glasgow’s George Square tonight, with police separating rival supporters of the union and independence.

Officers, some mounted on horses, lined up to divide a large number of people waving union flags from a small group of Yes supporters.

A number of people draped in union flags later left the area and began spreading on to the nearby streets, with many marching down St Vincent Place as police followed.

Union supporters and people sporting Yes badges argued over the referendum result and a chorus of Rule Britannia was countered by the Scottish anthem, Flower of Scotland.

Roads around the square were closed as police dealt with the incident.

The leader of the pro-independence campaign Alex Salmond resigned earlier this afternoon as Scotland’s first minister and Scottish National Party leader.

After the referendum defeat, Mr Salmond said it was time for a new leader who could now take the devolution process forward.

Mr Salmond said he believed party, parliament and country would ”benefit from new leadership”.

His decision to stand down after the next SNP conference in November comes just hours after the No side secured a comprehensive victory in the Scottish referendum.

“It has been the privilege of my life to serve Scotland as first minister. But as I said often during the referendum campaign this is not about me or the SNP. It is much more important than that. “The position is this. We lost the referendum vote but can still carry the political initiative. More importantly, Scotland can still emerge as the real winner.”

Earlier British prime minister David Cameron promised a devolution revolution across Great Britain after Scotland voted by 55 per cent to 45 per cent to remain within the 307-year-old union with England and Wales.

The result meant the Scottish independence debate had been “settled for a generation” and now was time “for our United Kingdom to come together and to move forward”, Mr Cameron said.

“There can be no disputes, no reruns - we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people,” Mr Cameron said outside No 10 Downing Street shortly after 7am when the result was confirmed.

The queen of England delivered a message of reconciliation this evening, urging people to unite in their “enduring love of Scotland” and expressing her belief they will come together to “work constructively for the future”.

David Cameron Tweet

In a detailed written statement issued from Balmoral, she said the “strong feelings and contrasting emotions — among family, friends and neighbours” provoked by the campaign would be “tempered by an understanding of the feelings of others”.

The monarch hailed the country’s robust democratic tradition and said the outcome of referendum, which came after months of discussion, debate and careful thought, would be respected throughout the UK.

She pledged to help people work together, saying: “My family and I will do all we can to help and support you in this important task.”

Her statement will be seen as part of the process of reuniting the country following the heated debate by both sides during the campaign.

The fallout from the vote has been swift with Wales’s first minister Carwyn Jones declaring that the United Kingdom as we know it is dead and accusing Mr Cameron of almost “sleepwalking” Britain into disaster over the way his government handled the Scottish referendum.

Mr Jones said the devolved governments must sit down together with the UK Government for talks as soon possible.

This view was echoed by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams who said the “decision demonstrates that the people are sovereign and that change is possible. The union is no longer fixed, it is in the ownership of the people.” He also called for a poll on the Northern Ireland Border.

“It is time for the people who share this island to have a respectful and informed debate with regard to Irish Unity or continued partition.”

Mr Adams said it was now up to the British government to make good on their promises of full fiscal and policy transfer to Scotland.

“I note this morning the British prime minister David Cameron promised that powers to be transferred to Scotland would also be extended to the Stormont Executive.

The No camp won 55 per cent of the vote and 28 of the 32 constituencies.

In the final count, the no camp clocked up 2,001,926 votes (55.3 per cent) to 1,617,989 for yes (44.7 per cent).

Mr Cameron said he had asked Lord Smith of Kelvin to implement the Scottish devolution reforms set out by the party leaders in the final weeks of the referendum campaign.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the referendum was a vote from the Scottish people for change. “We know our country needs to change in the way it is governed and we know our country needs to change in who it is governed for.”

Britain’s deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the referendum marked not only a new chapter for Scotland but also wider constitutional reform across the union.

The strength of the Yes campaign forced the three main British parties into panicked promises to grant substantial new power to the Scottish Parliament.

The legislation for this would be complicated, Mr Cameron said, but fairness for Scotland would have to be matched by fairness for the English, Welsh and Northern Irish.

The result was confirmed shortly before 7am when the head of the No campaign, Alistair Darling, said “the silent had spoken”. “We have chosen unity over division,” he told jubilant supporters in Glasgow.

Mr Salmond had hinted at another referendum in the years ahead before Mr Cameron firmly closed the door on this possibility.

Speaking shortly after the result was confirmed Mr Salmond said, Scots would now demand that the pledges of greater self-government for Scots made in haste by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg are delivered within months.

“Scotland will expect these to be honoured in rapid course - as a reminder, we have been promised a second reading of a Scotland Bill by March 27th next year.

The first minister added: “Whatever else we can say about this referendum campaign, we have touched sections of the community who have never before been touched by politics, these sections of the community have touched us and touched the political process.

“I don’t think that will ever be allowed to go back to business as usual in politics again.”

A total of 4,285,323 people were registered to vote, according to the Electoral Commission, and 16- and 17-year-olds were able to take part for the first time.

European equities surged today, with a key index hitting a 6.5 year high after Scotland’s decision to vote against independence buoyed equity markets and eased concerns about similar separatist movements in Spain.

PA

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