Cameron And Salmond Hit The Campaign Trail As Scottish Independence Vote Draws Near

David Cameron and Alex Salmond are hitting the referendum campaign trail as the battle over the future of the United Kingdom intensifies. After hailing the Union as the ''greatest merger in history'' in a speech last night, the Prime Minister will continue to make the case against independence as he campaigns in Scotland again.

Meanwhile the Scottish First Minister will be at soft-play centre in Edinburgh, talking to parents about how a Yes vote in the referendum could transform provision of childcare north of the border. It comes as a new poll by Survation for the Daily Mail showed the gap between the two sides in the independence debate had narrowed.

Of those who were surveyed 47.6% said they were planning to vote No on September 18 - down from 50.3% three weeks ago. The research, carried out after Monday's television debate between Salmond and Better Together leader Alistair Darling, found support for independence rose from 37.2% to 41.6%.

The number of Scots who are still to make up their mind about how to vote fell from 12.5% to 10.8%. When those who are undecided are excluded from the research, support for No is at 53%, with Yes on 47%. Salmond said the contrast between independence and the "austerity agenda, public service cuts and increasing child poverty on offer from the No camp could not be clearer".

Salmond's cause has been boosted in the polls following the TV debate

The SNP leader insisted families could save thousands of pounds a year in childcare costs if Scotland left the UK. The Scottish Government has committed to giving all three and four year olds and vulnerable two year olds 1,140 hours of childcare a year by the end of the first Parliament in an independent Scotland.

That would be extended to all children from one to school age by the end of the second Parliament, according to the white paper on independence. The First Minister said: "Childcare is expensive but with this plan, a parent saves almost £5,000 a year for a one year old and more than £2,000 for each two, three and four year old."

But the Prime Minister urged Scots to choose the "great advantages" of staying part of the UK "over the great unknown" of independence. Addressing the CBI Scotland annual dinner in Glasgow last night, Cameron sought to make the ''business case for Scotland in the UK'', insisting this was ''something which matters to every man, woman and child in our country''.

He urged Scots: "Let's choose openness over narrowness. Our great advantages over the great unknown. And let's stay together.''

On Thursday evening, Sir Mike Rake, the president of the CBI, spoke out about the "enormous" risks of a Yes vote in three weeks' time, saying he "does not see any substantive evidence for the position that independence would be economically beneficial for Scotland or the rest of the UK".

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