Scots vote in record numbers, await independence verdict

Scots vote in record numbers, await independence verdict
The Scottish saltire flag (L) and Union flag fly outside the Scottish Office, in central London August 28, 2014.

EDINBURGH - Scots agonized over the fate of their country on Friday after record numbers voted in a divisive independence referendum that could break apart the United Kingdom.

Scotland's verdict on the union should be clear around breakfast time on Friday, but a YouGov poll of 1,828 voters the organisation had previously polled indicated 54 per cent of Scots would back the union while 46 per cent would seek independence.

First partial results showed unionists won the Clackmannanshire region, which represents just under one per cent of the electorate, with 54 per cent against 46 per cent of the vote.

"It looks like the union will remain intact for the time being," YouGov research manager Laurence Janta-Lipinski told Reuters of the survey carried out on Thursday which was not an exit poll.

Sterling rose to a 2-week high against the US dollar in response. Banks in London manned trading desks through the night to track the result.

YouGov said it had picked up a "small but significant late swing" towards supporters of the 307-year union between Scotland and England on polling day, though it cautioned the survey was merely a snapshot.

The campaign for independence has galvanised this country of 5.3 million but also divided the passions of 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.

Seeking to tap into a cocktail of historical rivalry, opposing political tastes and a perception that London has mismanaged Scotland, nationalists say Scots, not London, should rule Scotland to build a wealthier and fairer country.

Unionists say independence would usher in financial, economic and political uncertainty and diminish the UK's standing in the world. They have warned that Scotland would not keep the pound as part of a formal currency union.

Beyond the money and power, the referendum has provoked deep passions in Scotland, drawn in many voters who ignore traditional political campaigns and underscored what London politicians admit is a need for wider constitutional change.

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.

SCOTLAND'S FATE

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

Electoral officials said the result will be announced around sunrise on Friday when all regional votes have been submitted. But partial results will give a strong indication after the count of cities such as Glasgow are declared around 0400 GMT.

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