Many New Yorkers With Ties To Homeland Watched As Votes Came In

EDINBURGH, Scotland (CBSNewYork/AP) — Scottish voters have rejected independence and decided that Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom.

The decision prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to Britain’s economic and political establishment, including Prime Minister David Cameron, who faced calls for his resignation if Scotland had broken away.

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The vote on Thursday, 55 percent against independence to 45 percent in favor, saw an unprecedented turnout of just under 85 percent.

“We have chosen unity over division,” Alistair Darling, head of the No campaign, said early Friday in Glasgow. “Today is a momentous day for Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole.”

Independence leader Alex Salmond’s impassioned plea to launch a new nation fell short, with Scots choosing instead the security of remaining in union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Still, the result establishes a whole new political dynamic in the United Kingdom, with Cameron appearing outside No. 10 Downing Street to pledge more powers for regional governments.

Even in conceding, Salmond struck an upbeat tone.

“This has been a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in politics,” he said to cheering supporters.

In New York City, many with ties to their homeland watched closely as the vote was taken.

Malcolm Boyd, a Scottish expatriate who owns his own Midtown consulting company, organized a pub viewing party.

“A lot of us wanted to get together with other people from Scotland or with an interest in Scotland and hopefully celebrate the results as they come in,” Boyd, who left Scotland 20 years ago, said before the polls closed.

Many also gathered at St. Andrew’s Pub in Midtown to watch the results comes in.

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“I’m very proud of my country. I’m proud of my family. I’m proud of my fellow countrymen,” Andrew Weir said.

The decision to reject independence will ease the worries of some business leaders who had warned they would have to shift their headquarters away from Scotland to England if Scots voted to become independent.

A much-relieved Cameron promised to live up to earlier promises to give Scotland new powers on taxes, spending and welfare. He said the new plans will be agreed upon by November, with draft legislation by January.

But he also said change was coming to other parts of the country amid the watershed vote.

“Just as the people of Scotland will have more power over their affairs, so it follows that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over theirs,” Cameron said. “The rights of these voters need to be respected, preserved and enhanced as well.”

The vote against independence keeps the United Kingdom from losing a substantial part of its territory and oil reserves and prevents it from having to find a new base for its nuclear arsenal, now housed in Scotland. It had also faced a possible loss of influence within international institutions including the 28-nation European Union, NATO and the United Nations.

The decision also means Britain can avoid a prolonged period of financial insecurity that had been predicted by some if Scotland broke away.

“This has been a long, hard fight and both sides have campaigned fiercely,” said Norma Austin Hart, a Labour Party member of Edinburgh City Council. “This has not been like a normal election campaign. There have been debates in town halls and school halls and church halls.

“It’s been so intense,” she said. “But the people of Scotland have decided.”

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