Scotland should stay in ‘robust’ UK - Obama

Published on Friday, 06 June 2014 10:54
Written by Daniel Mason

The UK should remain "strong, robust and united", US president Barack Obama has said - in his first public comments on the Scottish independence debate.

Obama said the decision in September's referendum was "up to the people of Scotland" but added that the UK in its current form had "worked pretty well".

Describing the UK as an "extraordinary partner" to the US, he added: "We obviously have a deep interest in making sure that one of the closest allies that 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," Obama said in a joint press conference in Brussels with the prime minister, David Cameron.

Labour's shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, welcomed the intervention. "His clear statement of support for the UK staying together will resonate with many of us here in Scotland.

"As a global statesman President Obama understands that interdependence is a defining feature of our modern work, and that building bridges, not putting up new barriers, is the challenge of our generation."

But the leader of the SNP and Scotland first minister, Alex Salmond, borrowed from Obama's own first election campaign, saying: "I support my message to President Obama is 'yes we can'."

He added: "America had to fight for its independence. We are very fortunate in Scotland that we have a democratic, agreed, consented process by which we can vote for our independence."

Salmond claimed independence for Scotland would mean the US had "two great friends and allies here rather than one".

But on a visit to Glasgow the business secretary, Vince Cable, said he did not believe an independent Scotland could sustain the conditions for job creation and business confidence "as effectively and efficiently as the UK".

"Scottish businesses are better off with a UK-wide approach to industrial policy; a UK-wide approach to public investment in science and infrastructure; with a single, flexible labour market operating under common rules with no barriers to movement," he said.

Meanwhile Obama renewed his call for the Britain remain a member of the EU.

Referring to commemorations of the D-Day landings, he said: "It's important to recall that it was the steadfastness of Great Britain that in part allows us to be here in Brussels in the seat of a unified and extraordinarily prosperous Europe.

"It's hard for me to imagine that project going well in the absence of Great Britain, and it's hard for me to imagine it would be advantageous for Great Britain to be excluded from political decisions that have an enormous impact on its economic and political life.

"I'm sure the people of Britain will make the right decision."

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