Scotland politics

Scottish Tory conference: Cameron in tax power pledge to No vote Scotland

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Media captionDavid Cameron says the referendum on Scottish independence is "a major life-changing decision"

David Cameron has backed greater tax powers for the Scottish Parliament in the event of an independence No vote.

Ahead of the Scottish referendum, the prime minister said he was committed to making devolution work better.

Mr Cameron told the Scottish Conservative conference it was facing a "monumental battle" to keep the UK together.

He also said it was time to tackle Scottish government "myths" on independence.

Speaking in Edinburgh ahead of the 18 September referendum, the prime minister said: "A vote for No is not a vote for no change.

"We are committed to making devolution work better still - not because we want to give Alex Salmond a consolation prize if Scotland votes No, but because it's the right thing to do."

Backing the position of Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, Mr Cameron added: "Giving the Scottish Parliament greater responsibility for raising more of the money it spends - that's what Ruth believes, and I believe it too."

The prime minister said: "Here's the re-cap. Vote 'Yes' - that is total separation.

"Vote 'No' - that can mean further devolution, more power to the Scottish people and their parliament, but with the crucial insurance policy that comes with being part of the UK."

Ahead of the historic referendum, Mr Cameron said the Conservatives were meeting with "pride", "respect" and "resolve".

He told the conference: "Six months on from now, the day will dawn, the polling booths will open, the voters will come out and the people of Scotland will decide.

"Stay or go. Stick with the UK or walk away.

"If the Scottish people vote 'Yes' in September, then Scotland will become an independent country. There will be no going back, no second chances.

"We face a monumental battle to keep our United Kingdom together, and here, in this hall, is a team with the resolve to fight."

Mr Cameron went on to say the arguments being put forward by the Scottish government must be tackled.

He said these included;

  • the ability to set up a pound-sharing deal between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK
  • and the terms of its status as a European Union member.

Mr Cameron added: "Where the SNP are spreading outright myths about this referendum, then we have got to take them on and take them apart, and there are - let's be frank - a few myths doing the rounds.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The Prime Minister said figures including Bank of England Governor Mark Carney have warned of the consequences of independence
Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Cameron paid tribute to former Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie during his conference speech

The prime minister said of the referendum ahead: "This is a major life-changing decision - and you don't make one of those without getting all the information you can.

"You wouldn't buy a house without getting a survey done. You wouldn't choose a car without an MOT.

"And you shouldn't make a decision about changing your nation - forever - without knowing in full what the consequences may be."

Mr Cameron said those spelling out the consequences included Bank of England Mark Carney, who said an independent Scotland would need to give up some power to make a formal currency with the rest of the UK work.

The prime minister also referred to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who previously said it would be "extremely difficult, if not impossible" for an independent Scotland to join the EU.

Mr Cameron also said concerns had been raised by the bosses of companies like BP, Shell, RBS and Lloyds, adding: "They're not political puppets - they are serious non-partisan figures.

"So the idea that these are empty warnings and political scare-mongering is a myth - and we owe it to the people of Scotland to take that myth apart."

To the appreciation of the gathered party members, Mr Cameron paid tribute to former Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie who died last year.

Call to debate

When voters go to the polls they will be asked the "Yes/No" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Ahead of the speech, Blair Jenkins, chief executive of pro-independence campaign group Yes Scotland, said that instead of "preaching to the Tory faithful", Mr Cameron might gain more credibility if he "stepped up to the plate" and debated with First Minister Alex Salmond.

He added: "In just six months' time, we will be asked as a nation to say Yes or No to putting Scotland's future in Scotland's hands.

"Mr Cameron, although he and the Tories have no mandate in Scotland, is the man leading the campaign to stop Scotland becoming a normal, independent country.

"On that basis, he needs to debate with those who disagree with him rather than blethering to those who do."

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