Cameron Hails 'Greatest Merger'

David Cameron hailed the Union between Scotland and England as the "greatest merger in history'' as he urged voters north of the border not to break away from the UK.

The Prime Minister said remaining part of the United Kingdom benefited both businesses and people north of the border.

With voters in Scotland deciding if the country should become independent in a referendum in just three weeks' time, he said: "Let's choose openness over narrowness. Our great advantages over the great unknown. And let's stay together.''

Mr Cameron was addressing business leaders at the CBI Scotland annual dinner in Glasgow on the day that some 200 company chiefs signed an open letter declaring that leaving the UK would be in Scotland's ''best interests''.

High-profile figures, including Stagecoach chairman Sir Brian Souter, Clyde Blowers boss Jim McColl and retired William Hill chief executive Ralph Topping, are among those who have put their name to the letter, along with whisky boss Neill Clapperton of the Springbank Distillery and Michelin-starred chef Andrew Fairlie.

First Minister Alex Salmond described the move as ''hugely significant'' in the run-up to the September 18 ballot, adding it is ''clear recognition of the massive opportunity that a Yes vote represents for Scotland's economy''.

Yesterday a group of 130 company leaders - employing more than 50,000 people in Scotland between them - insisted that the case for leaving the UK ''has not been made''.

Mr Cameron travelled north to make the "business case for Scotland in the UK'', adding this was ``something which matters to every man, woman and child in our country''.

He said it was "economic opportunities that brought our nations together in 1707'' when the Union was agreed, adding this was "the greatest merger in history''.

More than 300 years on he argued that "our union and our prosperity are still closely bound''.

He highlighted four "great advantages'' from the Union - the opportunities it creates, its stability, its solidarity and its scale.

The Conservative leader also used his speech to hit out at Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond after he threatened that an independent Scotland would not take on its share of the UK debt if no deal could be agreed on a currency union with the rest of the UK - something already vetoed by the three main Westminster parties.

The SNP leader said on Monday that if the UK denied Scotland the "financial assets'' of the Bank of England "then the UK will get stuck with all of the liabilities''.

But Mr Cameron questioned this "new threat not to pay a fair share of debt'', asking: "Has this really been thought through?

"You don't force someone to underwrite your future debts by threatening not to honour your past debts - that's not what any responsible government or person would choose to do.''

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