By Mick Krever, CNN
With just ten days until Scots vote on independence - and with a poll showing a slight lead for the independence campaign for the first time - “there is no room for complacency,” conservative Member of Parliament and former Defense Secretary Liam Fox told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.
“There’s no panic,” he said. “But I think there’s a genuine feeling at Westminster that the No campaign has focused too much on the negative.”
A ‘yes’ vote on September 18th would mean a bitter divorce after a marriage of 307 years; up until now, the ‘no’ campaign has kept a comfortable lead in the polls.
Political and business titans warn of grave consequences for the Scottish economy, public services, and national security should Scotland leave. But after this weekend’s YouGov poll, critics say unionists must step up their game in the final stretch if the union is to be preserved.
“It’s caused something of a minor political earthquake here at Westminster. I hope that it’s simply a strong wake-up call for those who’ve not been paying attention.”
“It’s very, very important that the ‘no’ campaign give a positive reason for staying in the union,” Fox said.
“The question is not whether Scotland could be independent, but whether it should be independent. And in my view, it could be independent albeit with a range of problems attached. But it shouldn’t be independence, because we are better off as a United Kingdom for a whole range of reasons.”
Critics say that while Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has appealed to voters’ hearts in campaigning for ‘yes’ votes, the ‘no’ or ‘Better Together’ campaign has been too cerebral.
“I think that you have to give people an emotional reason, as well as an intellectual one, for any decision you’re asking them to take.”
“And the way I would put it to the people of Scotland is that when the union was formed … way back in 1707, we were a nation of treaty. Now we’re a nation of people.”
“It’s very hard to find someone in Scotland who doesn’t have a grandparent or a great-grandparent from a different part of the United Kingdom. It’s very hard to find families who don’t have a family member working in a different part of the United Kingdom.”
“And how sad it would be if we had passports and different currencies that made foreigners of our family in their own country. That would be tragedy. And I think that emotional element needs to come out in the last week or so for the ‘no’ campaign.”
Some have said that should Scots vote to leave the union, it would be hard for Cameron to stay on as Prime Minister, having presided over the breakup of the United Kingdom.
Fox, a fellow Conservative, would not speculate on that possibility.
“I think that we should be talking about the big issues, and I think to get into the minutiae of what might happen hypothetically if there is to be a ‘yes’ vote is extremely unhelpful. And we must be very careful not to make the weather that actually helps the nationalists get across the finishing line.”