The British government is scrambling to respond to a surge in the opinion polls toward a vote for Scottish independence this month by promising a range of new powers for Scotland if it chooses to stay in the United Kingdom.
Finance minister George Osborne said yesterday that plans would be set out in the coming days to give Scotland more autonomy on tax, spending and welfare if there is a vote against independence in a September 18 referendum.
Prime Minister David Cameron had vetoed a third ballot option for greater devolution, betting that the stark choice of yes or no would deliver a clear victory for the status quo.
That looked like a precarious calculation after a YouGov poll for the Sunday Times showed supporters of independence had taken their first opinion poll lead since the referendum campaign began.
With less than two weeks before the vote, the poll put the “Yes” to independence campaign on 51 percent and the “No” camp on 49 percent, overturning a 22-point lead for the unionist position in just a month.
“You will see in the next few days a plan of action to give more powers to Scotland ... Then Scotland will have the best of both worlds. They will both avoid the risks of separation but have more control over their own destiny, which is where I think many Scots want to be,” Osborne told the BBC.