England and Wales urge Scotland not to leave the UK
LONDON - Despite sporting and historic rivalry, England and Wales had one message for Scotland on Tuesday: don't leave us.
As debate over Scotland's independence referendum heats up, an opinion poll showed a rising number of English and Welsh want Scotland to stay in the 307-year group forged by the Treaty of the Union that created the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
A YouGov poll found 54 percent want voters north of the border to reject independence at a referendum on Sept. 18.
This is a turnaround from three years ago when a poll for the tabloid Sun newspaper found slightly more English and Welsh wanted Scots to go their own way than stay in the UK.
The survey comes as polls north of the border show a slight shift in opinion with rising support for separatists who have lagged pro-unionists with about one third support since the independence vote became a reality 18 months ago.
"Suddenly Scottish independence has become a real consideration and people are taking this more seriously and no longer just giving a flippant answer," political analyst Anthony Wells from YouGov told Reuters.
The latest YouGov poll of 5,161 English and Welsh adults conducted last month found only 24 percent now wanted Scotland to break away from the UK while 22 percent did not know.
The poll found opposition to Scottish independence was strongest in the north of England where 55 percent of respondents favoured sticking with Scotland and was weakest in London where 50 percent opposed a breakaway.
The British government is opposed to Scottish independence, saying both sides of the border benefit from the union.
"The UK has a stronger global voice than any of us would have alone - this is common sense," Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said in a statement.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond is leading the drive for Scotland to split from the rest of the UK, arguing that Scots will be better off in charge of their own finances.
But the YouGov poll found the economy was not a key consideration for England and Wales, with 56 percent saying Scottish independence would make no real difference or not make them worse off. Only 26 percent thought they would benefit.
The number of Scottish residents opposed to independence continues to trump those supporting a split but as the debate heats up, more Scots are starting to sway towards a Yes vote and a large number remain uncertain.
This uncertainty and the Scottish National Party's landslide victory in Scottish elections in 2011 has prompted British officials to warn against complacency.
A TNS BMRB poll released last weekend showed support for independence at 29 percent, up from 26 percent in a similar November poll, while support for Scotland remaining part of the UK was steady at 42 percent
In the biggest test of national unity since most of Ireland broke away from the U.K. nearly a century ago, Scottish residents over the age of 16 will be asked: "Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes or No?".
Following is a timeline of milestones in relations between the Scots and the rest of Britain.
1st Century AD - First written records of Scottish history when Romans invade and seize much of the island of Britain, with Emperor Hadrian building Hadrian's Wall from coast to coast. North of the wall is Caledonia and partly occupied by the Picti.
3rd Century - After many battles, the Romans all but depart the land that came to be known later as Scotland.
5th Century - Gaels or Scoti originating from Northern Ireland raid and settle north of the River Clyde.
8th Century - All Scotland's kingdoms overthrown to some extent by Vikings, forcing the Picti, Scoti and other tribes to unite in the 9th Century to form the Kingdom of Scotland.
12th Century - Anglo-Norman barons including the Bruce family lay claim to much of mainland Scotland.
1296-1328 - First War of Independence. Scots led by William Wallace try to throw off English influence after King Edward I of England invades Scotland in 1296. The next year Robert the Bruce leads a revolt and after years of war Scotland defeats the English at Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
1328 - Scotland's independence is recognized.
1332-1357 - Second War of Independence.
1603 - Union of the Crowns. Accession of James VI, King of Scots, to the thrones of England and Ireland and unification for some purposes of the three realms under a single monarch.
1695 - Bank of Scotland is founded a year after Bank of England.
1707 - The Treaty of the Union creates the United Kingdom of Great Britain, the parliamentary union of England - which for administrative purposes also encompasses the Principality of Wales - with Scotland. It takes effect on May 1 but Scotland retains its own legal and educational systems.
1715 - The first Jacobite uprising. British forces crush an attempt by Scottish supporters of the exiled House of Stuart to regain the throne.
1745-46 - The second Jacobite uprising aimed at putting "Bonnie Prince Charlie" Stuart on the British throne ends in defeat at the battle of Culloden.
1916 - The "Provisional Government of the Irish Republic" proclaims Ireland's independence from the United Kingdom.
1922 - Anglo-Irish Treaty establishes Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. The latter remains in the United Kingdom.
1934 - Scottish National Party (SNP) is founded.
1945 - SNP gains first seat in parliament at Westminster.
1950 - Stone of Destiny, traditionally used during the coronation of British monarchs, taken from Westminster Abbey by four Scots students and taken back to Scotland for the first time since being looted by Edward I's army in 1296. Amid public outcry, the Stone is found and returned to London.
1952 - Elizabeth II becomes queen of the United Kingdom.
1973 - United Kingdom joins the European Economic Community which is later renamed the European Union.
1973 - Kilbrandon Commission recommends devolved assemblies for Scotland and Wales after four-year inquiry.
1975 - First North Sea oil is produced.
1979 - A referendum on Scottish devolution is held but does not achieve the necessary 40 percent of the electorate. The SNP experiences an electoral decline during the 1980s.
1989 - Introduction of the Poll Tax by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government helps revive the independence movement.
1996 - Stone of Destiny formally returned to Scotland by the British Government and put on display at Edinburgh Castle.
1997 - Referendum shows overwhelming support for a separate Scottish Parliament with tax-raising powers.
1998 - Scottish Act assigns devolved powers to a Scottish Parliament.
1999 - Elections for first 129-member Scottish Parliament with Labour winning 56 seats and the SNP 35 seats.
2004 - Royal opening of new Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.
2007 - Launch of National Conversation on Scotland's Constitutional Future by Scottish Government.
2007 - SNP overturns Labour majority in election, forming a minority government with 47 seats to Labour's 46 with support from the Greens on some issues.
2011 - SNP led by First Minister Alex Salmond wins a majority in the 129-member parliament with 69 seats to Labour's 37, leading to Scotland's first majority government.
Oct 2012 - Edinburgh Agreement is signed by Salmond and British Prime Minister David Cameron paving the way for a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014.
Nov 2013 - Scottish government publishes "Scotland's Future", making the case for independence.
Sept 18, 2014 - Referendum for independence. — Reuters