Cameron urges Scots to stay in UK

The Prime Minister has so far taken a low-profile role in the debate on independence.

British Prime Minister David Cameron. Picture: AFP.

GLASGOW - Prime Minister David Cameron urged Scots on Thursday to stay in the United Kingdom during an unusual two-day visit to Scotland to counter a rise in support for secession in opinion polls and criticism of the anti-independence campaign.

Cameron has so far taken a low-profile role in the increasingly heated debate about independence that will be decided at a 18 September referendum, aware he has limited appeal in Scotland where his Conservative party is unpopular.

But as nationalists gain ground on pro-UK supporters in polls, more heavyweight politicians are joining the cross-party fight against independence, arguing the union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is stronger together.

A TNS survey this week found the gap between the two sides had narrowed to a new low of 9 percentage points from 22 points last September among Scots certain to vote, and 53 percent of voters described the anti-independence campaign as negative.

Visiting Walcheren Barracks in Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, Cameron said he was "heartened" to see so many people find a voice in the debate over whether Scotland should end its 307-year tie to England and stressed the union was better together.

"We want Scotland to stay. We are all enriched by being together. Scotland puts the 'great' into Great Britain. Together we are a United Kingdom with a united future," Cameron said in a statement.

It is his second visit to Scotland this year and access to him was tightly controlled, with his office bypassing the usual system of issuing details of his trip in advance to the media.