Our Country at Stake
David Cameron's speech on saving Scotland.
(15 September 2014)
We meet in a week that could change the United Kingdom forever. Indeed, it could end the United Kingdom as we know it. On Thursday, Scotland votes, and the future of our country is at stake. On Friday, people could be living in a different country, with a different place in the world and a different future ahead of it.
This is a decision that could break up our family of nations, and rip Scotland from the rest of the UK. And we must be very clear. There's no going back from this. No re-run. This is a once-and-for-all decision. If Scotland votes yes, the UK will split, and we will go our separate ways forever. When people vote on Thursday they are not just voting for themselves, but for their children and grandchildren and the generations beyond. So I want to speak directly to the people of this country today about what is at stake.
I believe, I speak for millions of people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – and many in Scotland, too who would be utterly heart-broken by the break-up of the United Kingdom. Utterly heart-broken to wake up on Friday morning to the end of the country we love, to know that Scots would no longer join with the English, Welsh and Northern Irish in our Army, Navy and Air Force, in our UK-wide celebrations and commemorations, in UK sporting teams from the Olympics to the British Lions. The United Kingdom would be no more. No UK pensions, no UK passports, no UK pound. The greatest example of democracy the world has ever known, of openness, of people of different nationalities and faiths coming together as one, would be no more. It would be the end of a country that launched the Enlightenment, that abolished slavery, that drove the industrial revolution, that defeated fascism，the end of a country that people around the world respect and admire， the end of a country that all of us call home.
And we built this home together. It's only become Great Britain because of the greatness of Scotland. Because of the thinkers, writers, artists, leaders, soldiers, inventors who have made this country what it is. It's Alexander Fleming and David Hume; J.K. Rowling and Andy Murray and all the millions of people who have played their part in this extraordinary success story, the Scots who led the charge on pensions and the NHS and on social justice.
We did all this together. For the people of Scotland to walk away now would be like painstakingly building a home – and then walking out the door and throwing away the keys. So I would say to everyone voting on Thursday, please remember. This isn't just any old country. This is the United Kingdom. This is our country. And you know what makes us truly great?
It's not our economic might or military prowess – it's our values. British values. Fairness. Freedom. Justice. The values that say wherever you are, whoever you are, your life has dignity and worth. The values that say we don't walk on by when people are sick, that we don't ask for your credit card in the hospital, that we don't turn our backs when you get old and frail. That we don't turn a blind eye or a cold heart to people around the world who are desperate and crying out for help.
This is what Britain means. This is what makes us the greatest country on earth. And it's why millions of us could not bear to see that country ending – for good, for ever – on Friday. Now I know that there are many people across Scotland who are planning to vote Yes. I understand why this might sound appealing. It's the promise of something different.
I also know that the people who are running the Yes campaign are painting a picture of a Scotland that is better in every way, and they can be good at painting that picture. But when something looks too good to be true – that's usually because it is. And it is my duty to be clear about the likely consequences of a Yes Vote.
Independence would not be a trial separation, it would be a painful divorce. And as Prime Minister I have to tell you what that would mean. It would mean we no longer share the same currency. It would mean the armed forces we have built up together over centuries being split up forever. It would mean our pension funds sliced up – at some cost. It would mean the borders we have would become international and may no longer be so easily crossed. It would mean the automatic support that you currently get from British embassies when you're travelling around the world would come to an end. It would mean over half of Scottish mortgages suddenly, from one day to the next, being provided by banks in a foreign country. It would mean that interest rates in Scotland are no longer set by the Bank of England – with the stability and security that promises. It would mean - for any banks that remain in Scotland – if they ever got in trouble it would be Scottish taxpayers and Scottish taxpayers alone that would bear the costs. It would mean that we no longer pool resources across the whole of the UK to pay for institutions like the NHS or our welfare system.