POLITICS

Scottish Independence: Obama White House Repeats Preference For 'No' Vote

16/09/2014 10:22 BST | Updated 16/09/2014 10:59 BST
ASSOCIATED PRESS
White House press secretary Josh Earnest answers questions from reporters during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. Earnest took questions on the Middle East, Iran, Ukraine, and immigration. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

The White House has repeated its wish that Scotland reject independence, as polls suggest the future of the United Kingdom remains too close to call.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday that the break-up of the UK was a "decision for the people of Scotland to make", but indicated the United States wanted to see Britain remain unified.

"I will certainly respect their right to cast their own ballot without interference from people on the outside," he said. "But, you know, as the president himself said, we have an interest in seeing the United Kingdom remain strong, robust, united and an effective partner."

However with the vote just days away and the polls too close to call, Earnest said the White House did not want to be seen to be "improperly interfering" in the internal-affairs of the UK.

Earnest also acknowledged that the US government had been planning for the dissolution of its closet ally. “I suspect that there’s somebody at the administration who’s been thinking about that at some level,” he said. "I don’t know to what level it has risen. It hasn't risen to my level, or maybe it hasn't sunk to my level."

By contrast the British government has steadfastly insisted it has made no contingency plans for its own break-up. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and other coalition ministers have repeatedly claimed they are focused solely on winning a 'No' vote and have not directed civil servants to plan for a 'Yes' victory.

The White House's comment on Monday restatement of a view given by president Obama in June, when he said the US wanted to see the UK remain a "strong, robust, united, and an effective partner".

In August, 27 members of the US Congress, from both parties, signed a motion urging Scotland to reject independence. House resolution 713, was signed by representatives including Republican congressman Ed Royce, the chairman of the House foreign affairs committee.

Royce told The Huffington Post at the time: "Our ‘special relationship’ with the United Kingdom is unparalleled. It is crucial for both our nations to continue our close cooperation on key diplomatic, security, economic, and human rights concerns. A strong, unified United Kingdom has been a leader in the world and I look forward to continuing our valuable partnership."