Scottish independence final result: No voters keep Scotland in the UK
Alex Salmond concedes defeat as Scotland rejects independence by 55 per cent to 45 per cent
The pro-union Better Together campaign celebrated after winning the referendum with 2,001,926 votes over 1,617,989 for the pro-independence campaign.
The margin of victory - 55 per cent to 45 per cent - was greater than many of the final opinion polls anticipated by around 3 per cent. The winning total needed was 1,852,828.
Alex Salmond conceded defeat shortly after 6.15am.
"I accept the verdict of the people and I call on all of Scotland to follow suit in accepting that democratic verdict of the people of Scotland," he said.
Glasgow and Dundee both voted Yes, and Salmond hailed the 1.6 million votes for independence, calling on Westminster politicians to honour their pledge to grant Scotland more power "in rapid course".
Alistair Darling said that Scotland has "chosen unity over separaration" and was applauded when he too called for unity after what he acknowledged had sometimes been a divisive campaign.
"We have reaffirmed all that we have in common and the bonds that tie us together," he said. "Let them never be broken."
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that he was "delighted" with the final result.
"The people of Scotland have spoken. It is a clear result. They have kept our country of four nations together. Like millions of other people, I’m delighted," he said.
The Queen will issue a written statement later in the day.
7.30am: Following the result, David Cameron calls on the United Kingdom to come together: "As I said during the campaign, it would have broken my heart to see our United Kingdom come to an end. And I know that sentiment was shared by people, not just across our country, but also around the world - because of what we've achieved together in the past and what we can do together in the future. So now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together, and to move forward."
7.15am: Alex Salmond’s deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, told the BBC that there was a "real sense of disappointment that we have fallen narrowly short of securing a 'yes' vote".
6.45am: Alistair Darling describes the result as a momentous day for the entire United Kingdom. "The people of Scotland have spoken," he says. "We have chosen unity over separaration." He calls on politicians of all stripes to come together to build a future for Scotland within the UK.
6.17am: Alex Salmond concedes defeat, saying he accepts the verdict of the people of Scotland and calling on his supporters to follow suit. He reminded political leaders in Westminster of their promisises to devolve more powers to Scotland, but he ended with a plea for unity. "The movement is abroad in Scotland that will take this nation forward," he said, "and we shall go forward as one nation."
6.08am: Scotland has voted to remain within the United Kingdom. With 30 of 32 councils declared and the No side with 1,877,252 votes, it is now mathematically impossible for the Yes vote to catch up.
5.55am: With results in from Edinburgh and Aberdeenshire, the chances of a Yes vote have dwindled to nothing. The margin in Edinburgh was particularly wide, with the No campaign taking 61 per cent of the vote. In Aberdeenshire, Alex Salmond's local council, 60 per cent of the electorate voted No. Alistair Darling has said he will soon be making a speech:
An extraordinary night. Humbled by the level of support and the efforts of our volunteers. Will give speech in Glasgow shortly. #indyref
— Alistair Darling (@TogetherDarling) September 19, 2014
5.40am: David Cameron has tweeted his congratulations to the Better Together campaign - without yet claiming victory:
I've spoken to Alistair Darling - and congratulated him on an well-fought campaign. #indyref
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) September 19, 2014
Meanwhile Alex Salmond has also turned to Twitter, welcoming Glasgow's vote for independence while making no reference to the broader count:
Well done to Glasgow, our commonwealth city, and to the people of Scotland for such a incredible support
— Alex Salmond (@AlexSalmond) September 19, 2014
5.15am: The BBC calls the referendum for the No campaign, projecting a 55 to 45 per cent victory for the pro-union side. Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy leader of the SNP, has conceded defeat. "There isn't a Yes vote tonight," she said. "We will be deeply disappointed but I have also been exhilarated by this campaign."
4.55am: Glasgow has voted in favour of Scottish independence, with 194,779 Yes votes against 169,347 No votes. That gives the pro-independence campaign a 53 to 47 per cent advantage. Significantly for the Yes campaign, the turnout was 75 per cent - relatively low by the standards of the night.
4.40am: Although commentators remain cautious about declaring the race over, most are becoming more confident in predicting a No vote. "With just over half of the counts declared, the No thanks campaign has opened up a clear lead over the Yes campaign, with 622,040 backing the Union, and 490,817 wanting separation," says Christopher Hope, the Daily Telegraph's senior political correspondent. "The magic number they have to reach is just over 1.8million votes So far the No campaign has picked up the vast majority of districts declared."
4.20am: As results continue to suggest a No vote, the pound has begun to climb on Asian markets. "The pound sterling has hit a two-year high against the euro and a two-week high against the US dollar," the BBC reports.
3.58am: Dundee becomes the first local count to vote for Scottish independence, and by a clear margin. A total of 53,620 people voted Yes and 39,880 voted No, giving the pro-independence campaign a 57 to 43 per cent advantage.
2.40am: Shetland has followed Orkney, adding to the No vote's early lead. Just under 64 per cent of voters on the island rejected Scottish independence.
2.02am: The second result of the night is in, and Orkney has voted resoundingly in favour of staying within the union, as was expected. On a turnout of 83 per cent, 4,883 voted Yes and 10,004 voted No.
1.42am: The Scottish weather has intervened in the count in various ways. In the Western Isles, fog grounded helicopters that were to have transported ballot boxes and lifeboats were pressed into service. Elsewhere, an accident which closed the A9 has delayed the Highland count by an hour and a half, according to STV, and the SNP has blamed the weather for Alex Salmond's change of plans (see below).
1.27am: It's first blood to the pro-union campaign, as the Clackmannanshire counting officer announces that, on a turnout of 88.6 per cent, 16,450 people voted Yes and 19,036 voted No. These totals, which constitute less than one per cent of the electorate, will be put towards the grand total which is expected to be announced at about 7am.
12.45am: A Yes Scotland source says that they are expecting that Glasgow has voted Yes by a margin of 54 to 46. The city was expected to come down in favour of independence.
12.40am: Alex Salmond has cancelled an appearance at his local count in Aberdeenshire. "SNP sources have now confirmed that Salmond would be spending the night in [his home village of] Strichen and, in line with one part of the original plan, go to Edinburgh in the early morning," The Guardian reports. Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor says this "may be quite an important sign that the Yes campaign has something to worry about".
12.15am: The first official turnout figures for today's vote come from Orkney, where 84 per cent of the electorate cast their ballots, and Clackmannanshire, where 89 per cent turned out. Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch, who has been vocal in his support of Alex Salmond, tweets a warning to politicians in Westminster:
Exit polls sound very ominous for YES. Now everybody on both sides must ensure Cameron and Milliband keep heir promises and not weasel out.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) September 18, 2014
11.25pm: A trickle of information seems to confirm the expectations of a very high turnout. In East Lothian 95 per cent of postal votes were returned, and in South Ayrshire that figure was 93 per cent. The BBC reports comments from a Yes campaigner who says that turnout in parts of Perth, usually 35 per cent, was unofficially reckoned to be 82 per cent.
10.50pm: Pollsters and bookmakers seem to be united in predicting a victory for the No campaign: Betfair now gives the pro-independence camp only a 7 per cent chance of victory, while pollster Peter Kellner tells Sky News that the No camp has a 99 per cent chance of success.
10.45pm: No exit poll was conducted for the Scottish independence referendum, but a YouGov polling day survey has given the No vote a 54 to 46 per cent lead. The eight-point gap is wider than in most recent polls, and larger than the margin of error. But critics of the online voter panels used by YouGov, say they struggle to reach voters who have not previously taken part in elections.
10.20pm: The first results are expected from Clackmannanshire within a couple of hours. The Yes campaign will hope to come out on top in this local count. If they don't, their hopes of waking up in a Scotland that has decided in favour of independence will be severely dented.
10pm: As the polls close, the first indication is that turnout has exceeded even the expectations raised by the intensity of the past few weeks of campaigning. One official told the BBC that at least 90 per cent of voters had participated, and said that turnout might reach the 93.5 per cent achieved in Quebec's indenpendence referendum. Not since 1951 has turnout exceeded 80 per cent in a Scottish election.
Scottish independence polls: final surveys shows UK 'on a knife edge'
The future of Scotland and the United Kingdom is "on a knife edge", according to the final polls in the independence referendum campaign.
Four final polls published in the last 24 hours suggest that the No vote has a narrow lead of between two and six percentage points.
The largest gap was seen in a Survation poll for the Daily Record, with 53 per cent of voters saying they would vote No to Scottish independence and 47 per cent saying they would vote Yes.
The other three polls were much tighter. "The survival of the United Kingdom was hanging by a thread last night," said The Times as it published its last poll, putting the nationalists just two points from victory.
The newspaper said that the estimated 100,000 undecided voters are enough to swing the result. Its poll, carried out by YouGov, found that independence had a strong lead among men, with 54 per cent saying they would vote Yes, compared to 43 per cent of women. The No campaign has support from among the over-60s, while Scots aged between 25 and 29 favoured independence by 56 per cent.
A Panelbase poll matched the results of the three polls published earlier in the week, with 48 per cent supporting Yes and 52 per cent supporting No.
Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland, says the referendum is "on a knife edge". First Minister Alex Salmond and former prime minister Gordon Brown last night sought to appeal to wavering voters in their final rallies before the vote today.
Brown clenched his fists and urged Scotland to "have confidence, stand up and be counted" and reject independence for the sake of "Scotland's children", while Salmond told crowds of chanting supporters that "tomorrow is our opportunity of a lifetime".
Here are the results of the final polls (some numbers have been rounded up):
The Times/YouGov (3,237 polled)
Will not vote 2%
Excluding undecided: No 52% Yes 48%
STV/Ipsos-MORI (1,405 polled)
Excluding undecided: No 51% Yes 49%
Panelbase (1,004 polled)
Excluding undecided: No 52% Yes 48%
Daily Record/Survation (1,266 polled)
Excluding undecided: No 53% Yes 47%