UK

Why Is The English Town Of Corby Holding A Scottish Referendum?

13/07/2014 10:03 BST | Updated 13/07/2014 10:59 BST

An English town dubbed 'little Scotland' is holding its own mock independence referendum.

Labour's shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran will be in Corby today urging voters there to back the United Kingdom in the ballot, which is being held just over two months before Scots go to the polls to decide the country's future on September 18.

The mock ballot is being staged as part of Corby's annual Highland Gathering.

scotland corby

Piper Joanne Cowe from the Grampian Corby Association Pipe Band in Northampton

Thousands of people in the town are of Scottish descent, after a downturn in the steel industry in the Clyde Valley saw many travel to Corby, Northamptonshire, for work after one of the largest steel workers in the UK was set up there in the 1930s.

The Yes Scotland campaign said the social union between Scotland and the rest of the UK will continue and "be enhanced" under independence.

Ms Curran urged people living in the English town to make their views known, even though they will not have a say in the independence referendum in September.

The Glasgow East MP said: "Alex Salmond wanted to turn this referendum into a debate between Scotland and England, but he has failed.

"Most Scots have friends and family who live in the rest of the UK - it doesn't feel like a foreign country and they don't want it to become one. Over the past 300 years we have built bonds of family and friendship that have strengthened the union.

"Scots here in Corby don't have a vote, but they do have a view, and it's right they make it heard. Thousands of people, particularly in Glasgow and Lanarkshire, will have relatives who moved to Corby and they want to hear what they have to say. I hope today they vote back our campaign to keep the UK united.

"The majority of people across Scotland know that turning our backs on Britain means turning our backs on people here in Corby, in Liverpool, in Newcastle or Cardiff. People we have lots in common with, and many who are Scots themselves.

"The majority of Scots don't want what the Nationalists want - to cut every political tie with people here in Corby and across the UK. We want to carry on working together."

The Corby Highland Gathering features pipe bands and highland dancing, and is said to be the biggest such event held outside Scotland.

It is held outdoors and, just like Scotland, the turnout often depends on the weather. Organisers believe up to 8,000 people could attend if the conditions are good.

Corby resident Linda Cassidy said: "I moved to Corby in 1977, but living outside of Scotland has never made me feel any less Scottish. I won't have a vote in September, but I do have a view and I hope everyone in Corby will make their views heard today.

"Being part of the UK meant that I was able to come to Corby to work and to take advantage of the opportunities that were on offer. I want my children to be able to have the same opportunity - to move back to Scotland and live and work there if they want to. I don't want Scotland to turn into a foreign country."

Sarah-Jane Walls, a spokeswoman for Yes Scotland, said: "This debate is about whether we want to put Scotland's future in Scotland's hands to help us create a better, fairer country for ourselves and our children.

"The strong social union that exists between Scotland and the other nations in these isles will continue and indeed be enhanced after a Yes vote.

"Independence will be good not only for Scotland but also for the rest of the UK because it will help to rebalance the economy and create a partnership of equals."