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Scotland votes NO

EDINBURGH: Scotland has chosen to stay in the United Kingdom, spurning independence in a historic referendum that had worried allies and investors, results showed on Friday with more than two thirds of the vote declared. Scotland’s final verdict on the union should be clear within two hours. Supporters of the United Kingdom have won 54 percent of the vote, according to Reuters calculations, and that share could climb.

The independence camp conceded that it had come up short.

“Like thousands of others across the country I’ve put my heart and soul into this campaign and there is a real sense of disappointment that we’ve fallen narrowly short of securing a yes vote,” Scottish Nationalist Party deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon said.

“It looks as if it’s not quite been enough and that’s deeply disappointing,” Sturgeon told the BBC.

“It seems to me that we are going to have a ‘No’ majority in this referendum, though obviously there is a long way to go,” Danny Alexander, the Scottish-born Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told Reuters.

“That’s great news for Scotland and for the United Kingdom, but also just a start to the serious task to make sure that Scotland gets the additional power that it needs,” said Alexander, a Liberal Democrat with a Scottish constituency.

Though the results boosted the spirits of the unionist campaign, hours remained before the results from Scotland’s biggest cities – where the fate of the United Kingdom is likely to be sealed – were due to be reported.

The campaign for independence has galvanised this country of 5.3 million people but also divided friends and families from the remote Scottish islands of the Atlantic to the tough city estates of Glasgow.

Breaking apart the United Kingdom has worried allies, investors and the entire British elite whose leaders rushed late in the campaign to check what opinion polls showed was a surge in support for independence.

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Voters lined up at polling stations across Scotland to vote with 4.28 million voters, or 97 per cent of the electorate, registered to vote. Turnout hit a record high.

They were asked to answer “Yes” or “No” to the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”.