Scotland should remain in UK, Obama says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 June, 2014, 1:34am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 June, 2014, 1:34am

President Barack Obama yesterday gave the strongest signal yet that the United States wanted to see the United Kingdom remain inside the European Union and Scotland to preserve its 307-year-old union with England.

In just over three months, on September 18, another big vote - a referendum in Scotland on whether to break away from the United Kingdom and declare independence - will also be held.

When asked at a G7 news conference in Brussels what the votes in Scotland and Europe meant to him and the people of the United States, Obama said the Scottish vote was for Scots to decide but that the United States wanted a "united" partner.

"From the outside at least it looks like things have worked pretty well and we obviously have a deep interest in making sure that one of the closest allies that we will ever have remains a strong, robust, united and effective partner," Obama said.

In a pointed response to Obama, Scottish nationalist leader Alex Salmond said the decision on independence was up to the people of Scotland and that he was glad the US experience of gaining independence through conflict could be avoided.

"As President Obama rightly observes, the decision on Scotland's future is up to the people of Scotland," Salmond said in a statement e-mailed to reporters, adding that the United States could gain a friend if Scotland declared independence.

Speaking to reporters at a joint news conference with Cameron, Obama also made it clear he'd prefer Britain to stay inside the EU, saying it was encouraging for Washington to know its ally had "a seat at table in the larger European project". He said the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings was a reminder of Britain's role in bringing Europe together.