The fate of the United Kingdom remained unclear five days before a historic referendum on Scottish independence as three new polls on Saturday showed a slight lead for supporters of the union, but one saying the separatist campaign was pulling ahead. On the final weekend of campaigning, tens of thousands of supporters of both sides took to the streets of the capital Edinburgh and Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow. Rival leaders worked across the country to convince undecided voters. At stake is not just the future of Scotland, but that of the United Kingdom, forged by the union with England 307 years ago. The battle also took a bitter turn on Saturday when a senior nationalist warned businesses such as oil major BP Plc that they could face punishment for voicing concern over the impact of a secession. The economic future of Scotland has become one the most fiercely debated issues in the final weeks of impassioned debate.
Nationalists accuse British Prime Minister David Cameron of coordinating a scare campaign by business leaders aimed at spooking voters, while unionists say separation is fraught with financial and economic uncertainty.
But former Scottish Nationalist Party deputy leader Jim Sillars went much further than separatist leader Alex Salmond, warning that BP’s operations in Scotland might face nationalisation if Scots voted for secession on Thursday.
“This referendum is about power, and when we get a ‘Yes’ majority we will use that power for a day of reckoning with BP and the banks,” Sillars, a nationalist rival of Salmond’s, was quoted by Scottish media as saying.