Alex Salmond today admitted defeat in his battle for Scottish independence, as almost two million people voted to remain in the United Kingdom.
On the worst day of his political life, the First Minister tried to put a brave face on the electorate’s crushing verdict, claiming that it showed only that a majority had decided ‘at this stage’ not to become an independent country.
But with all councils declared, No secured 55 per cent of the vote, a 10-point lead which will trigger speculation about whether Mr Salmond can survive as leader of the Scottish Nationalists.
David Cameron also celebrated the result, and in a dramatic move announced plans to use the offer of more powers to Scotland to introduce ‘English votes for English laws’, strengthening the Tory party’s grip on Westminster.
The pound rose sharply and the FTSE 100 Index is expected to follow suit in a relief rally for markets after Scotland’s rejection of independence.
The Queen has been ‘closely’ monitoring the outcome of the vote, and is expected to issue a public statement welcoming the survival of the 307-year Union later today.