Scotland picks UK over independence in referendum

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
45 PHOTOS
Scottish Independence
See Gallery
Scotland picks UK over independence in referendum
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: A discarded Yes sticker lies on cobble stones along the Royal Mile after the people of Scotland voted no to independence on September 19, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The majority of Scottish people have today voted 'No' in the referendum and Scotland will remain within the historic union of countries that make up the United Kingdom. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A pro-independence supporter is pictured in George Square in Glasgow, Scotland, on September 19, 2014, following a defeat in the referendum on Scottish independence. Scotland rejected independence on Friday in a referendum that left the centuries-old United Kingdom intact but paved the way for a major transfer of powers away from London. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-independence supporters are pictured in George Square in Glasgow, Scotland, on September 19, 2014, following a defeat in the referendum on Scottish independence. Scotland rejected independence on Friday in a referendum that left the centuries-old United Kingdom intact but paved the way for a major transfer of powers away from London. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-independence supporters console each other in George Square in Glasgow, Scotland, on September 19, 2014, following a defeat in the referendum on Scottish independence. Scotland rejected independence on Friday in a referendum that left the centuries-old United Kingdom intact but paved the way for a major transfer of powers away from London. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-independence supporters push each other in a shopping trolley in Glasgow, Scotland, on September 19, 2014, following a defeat in the referendum on Scottish independence. Scotland rejected independence on Friday in a referendum that left the centuries-old United Kingdom intact but paved the way for a major transfer of powers away from London. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Leader of the UK Independence Party, UKIP Nigel Farage gives interviews on Abingdon Green on September 19, 2014 in London, England. The majority of Scottish people have today voted 'No' in the referendum and Scotland will remain within the historic union of countries that make up the United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: 'Better Together' supporters celebrate the result of the Scottish referendum on independence at the count centre for the Scottish referendum at Ingleston Hall on September 19, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The majority of Scottish people have today voted “No” in the referendum and Scotland will remain within the historic union of countries that make up the United Kingdom. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Leader of the UK Independence Party, UKIP Nigel Farage posts letters to Scottish MP's urging them not to vote on English laws on September 19, 2014 in London, England. The majority of Scottish people have today voted 'No' in the referendum and Scotland will remain within the historic union of countries that make up the United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
British Labour Party MP and pro-union supporter Alistair Darling addresses supporters during a 'Better Together' referendum event in Glasgow, Scotland, on September 19, 2014. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond on Friday conceded defeat in his party's campaign for independence from the rest of the United Kingdom, after all but one result from the historic referendum was declared. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
British Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the media outside 10 Downing Street in London, on September 19, 2014, following results in the Scottish referendum on independence. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond on Friday conceded defeat in his party's campaign for independence from the rest of the United Kingdom, after all but one result from the historic referendum was declared. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond poses for photographs after casting his ballot at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Yes campaign and No campaign posters stand outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls have opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
The young son of a Yes campaigner takes a picture of a sign outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls have opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A young voter leaves after casting his ballot at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, file photo, a "No" campaign supporter and a "Yes" campaign supporter chat holding posters after a No campaign event where a number of speeches were made by different people and politicians in Glasgow, Scotland. Breaking up is hard to do, especially after 300 years. The people of the United Kingdom will find out just how hard if Scotland votes for independence on Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and figurehead of the Yes campaign for the Scottish independence referendum delivers a speech to Yes campaign supporters at the concert hall, in Perth, Scotland, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Excitement and anxiety mounted across the country Wednesday, the final day of campaigning before Thursday's referendum on independence. With opinion polls suggesting the result is too close to call and turnout expected to reach record levels, supporters of separation feel they are within touching distance of victory — but wonder whether their surge in the polls will be enough. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
People react during a pro Scottish independence campaign rally, in central Glasgow, Scotland,Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. The two sides in Scotland's independence debate are scrambling to convert undecided voters, with just one day to go until a referendum on separation. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)
DALMALLY, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Pro-Scottish independence 'Yes Scotland' campaign stall at the Dalmally Agricultural Society Show on September 6, 2014 in Dalmally, Scotland. The Dalmally show is an annual event in which prizes are given to best livestock, best-grown vegetables, for cooking and home industries arts. Exhibitions, festivities and demonstrations also take place at this major Scottish agricultural show. Scotland will vote on whether or not to Leave the United Kingdom in a referendum to be held on September 18th this year. (Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Political viewpoints decorate the exterior of premises- one reads 'Vote No' in favour of the Union, the other is a 'Yes' sign for a 'Yes Scotland' pro-independence office, showing opposing sides of the argument for the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum, on September 4, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Scotland will vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom in a referendum to be held on September 18th this year. (Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Jim Murphy MP, former Secretary of State for Scotland, speaks from the soapbox in support of the Union as he continues his '100 towns in 100 days' tour outside the Gallery of Modern Art, on September 4, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr Murphy resumed his tour this week after having to suspend it last week following disruption and attempts to silence him by supporters of the pro-Independence vote. Scotland will vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom in a referendum to be held on September 18th this year. (Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Jim Murphy MP, former Secretary of State for Scotland, speaks from the soapbox in support of the Union as he continues his '100 towns in 100 days' tour outside the Gallery of Modern Art, on September 4, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr Murphy resumed his tour this week after having to suspend it last week following disruption and attempts to silence him by supporters of the pro-Independence vote. Scotland will vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom in a referendum to be held on September 18th this year. (Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Jim Murphy MP, former Secretary of State for Scotland, arrives carrying his soapboxes as he continues his '100 towns in 100 days' tour outside the Gallery of Modern Art, on September 4, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr Murphy resumed his tour this week after having to suspend it last week following disruption and attempts to silence him by supporters of the pro-Independence vote. Scotland will vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom in a referendum to be held on September 18th this year. (Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Pro-Union supporters listen to Jim Murphy MP, former Secretary of State for Scotland, as speaks in defence of the Union during his '100 towns in 100 days' tour, outside the Gallery of Modern Art, on September 4, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr Murphy resumed his tour this week after having to suspend it last week following disruption and attempts to silence him by supporters of the pro-Independence vote. Scotland will vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom in a referendum to be held on September 18th this year. (Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)
BLANTYRE, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Labour Leader Ed Miliband joins the Scottish Labour Party's independence campaign trail on September 4, 2014 in Blantyre, Scotland. Miliband urged Scots to reject independence in a referendum on the September 18, promising he will win a national election next year and give them the changes they desire. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 29: Better Together leader Alistair Darling joins the Deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party Anas Sarwar during a visit to Glasgow Central Mosque on August 29, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr. Darling and Mr. Sarwar were making the case for keeping the Scotland in the Union ahead of the referendum vote on independence on September 18th. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DUNDEE, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 27: Yes and Better Together supporters exchange views with one another as Jim Murphy Shadow Secretary of State for International Development (not seen), speaks on his soapbox during his '100 Towns in 100 Days' tour on August 27, 2014 in Dundee, Scotland. Mr. Murphy, Labour MP, is touring Scotland on behalf of the Better Together, spreading his message about the benefits of Scotland remaining part of the union and informing the public of the risks that independence poses for the country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DUNDEE, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 27: Yes and Better Together supporters exchange views with one another as Jim Murphy Shadow Secretary of State for International Development (not seen), speaks on his soapbox during his '100 Towns in 100 Days' tour on August 27, 2014 in Dundee, Scotland. Mr. Murphy, Labour MP, is touring Scotland on behalf of the Better Together, spreading his message about the benefits of Scotland remaining part of the union and informing the public of the risks that independence poses for the country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DUNDEE, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 27: Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown attends a Better Together rally on August 27, 2014 in Dundee, Scotland. Both encouraged Scots with postal votes to vote no to independence, as postal ballots are being sent out this week to voters across Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
FENWICK, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 26: Yes campaign placards are placed in a field on August 26, 2014 in Fenwick, Scotland. In less than a month voters will go to the polls to vote yes or no on whether Scotland should become an independent country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond poses for photographs after casting his ballot at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Children too young to vote play with a Yes campaigner, right, using Yes campaign big hands outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Yes campaigners stand outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls have opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A Yes campaigner and a No campaigner stand outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls have opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Voters leave after casting their ballots at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Flemish nationalists and others in support of Scottish independence stand in front of a 'Yes' banner in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Scots held the fate of the United Kingdom in their hands Thursday as they voted in a referendum on becoming an independent state, deciding whether to unravel a marriage with England that built an empire but has increasingly been felt by many Scots as stifling and one-sided.(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond meets members of the public on a walkabout in Newmachar, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
A man repairs part of a makeshift Scottish national flag before a demonstration in favor of Scottish independence in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Scots held the fate of the United Kingdom in their hands Thursday as they voted in a referendum on becoming an independent state, deciding whether to unravel a marriage with England that built an empire but has increasingly been felt by many Scots as stifling and one-sided. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Flemish nationalists and other supporters carry flags as they take part in a demonstration in favor of Scottish independence in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Scots held the fate of the United Kingdom in their hands Thursday as they voted in a referendum on becoming an independent state, deciding whether to unravel a marriage with England that built an empire but has increasingly been felt by many Scots as stifling and one-sided.(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Scottish independence referendum Yes supporter 83-year-old Edinburgh resident Isabelle Smith, who lived in the U.S. for three decades, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls have opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. For Smith, who went to the polling station decked out in a blue-and-white pro-independence shirt and rosette, statehood for Scotland was a dream nurtured during her time living in the United States with her late husband. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A school boy arrives at a polling station to vote in the Scottish Referendum in Peebles, Scotland,Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Scotland votes on independence. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds can vote in the referendum. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, centre left, talks to the media after casting his ballot at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
People react during a pro Scottish independence campaign rally, in central Glasgow, Scotland,Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. The two sides in Scotland's independence debate are scrambling to convert undecided voters, with just one day to go until a referendum on separation. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and figurehead of the Yes campaign for the Scottish independence referendum smiles at the start of his speech to Yes campaign supporters at the concert hall, in Perth, Scotland, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Excitement and anxiety mounted across the country Wednesday, the final day of campaigning before Thursday's referendum on independence. With opinion polls suggesting the result is too close to call and turnout expected to reach record levels, supporters of separation feel they are within touching distance of victory — but wonder whether their surge in the polls will be enough. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Former British Finance Minister and No campaigner for the Scottish independence referendum Alistair Darling gestures at the end of his speech at a No campaign event in Glasgow, Scotland, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Will the ayes have it, or will Scotland say naw thanks? No one is certain. Excitement and anxiety mounted across the country Wednesday, the final day of campaigning before Thursday's referendum on independence. With opinion polls suggesting the result is too close to call and turnout expected to reach record levels, supporters of separation feel they are within touching distance of victory — but wonder whether their surge in the polls will be enough. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
The audience applaud and hold No campaign posters during a No campaign event where a number of speeches were made by different people and politicians in Glasgow, Scotland, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Will the ayes have it, or will Scotland say naw thanks? No one is certain. Excitement and anxiety mounted across the country Wednesday, the final day of campaigning before Thursday's referendum on independence. With opinion polls suggesting the result is too close to call and turnout expected to reach record levels, supporters of separation feel they are within touching distance of victory — but wonder whether their surge in the polls will be enough. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

By JILL LAWLESS and DANICA KIRKA

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) -- The United Kingdom will stay united. Voters in Scotland resoundingly rejected independence in a historic referendum that shook the country to its core.

But No to a break-up doesn't mean a return to the status quo. The referendum led to promises of further powers for each of the four nations in the United Kingdom - a pledge that will change the country forever.

Hours after the result of the vote was declared, Scotland's pro-independence leader Alex Salmond said he is resigning as first minister and leader of his Scottish National Party.

Salmond, 59, said he is proud of the campaign and the record turnout in Thursday's referendum.

"For Scotland the campaign is not over and the dream will never die," he said in an emotional statement.

Salmond's impassioned plea to launch a new nation - a cause he championed for some two decades - fell short, with Scots choosing instead the security of remaining in union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The referendum's result prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to Britain's economic and political establishment.

In the referendum, 55 percent were against independence to 45 percent in favor. There was an unprecedented turnout of just under 85 percent.

A visibly relieved British Prime Minister David Cameron promised to live up to earlier promises to give Scotland new powers on taxes, spending and welfare. Cameron told reporters outside his Downing Street office that the new plans will be agreed upon by November, with draft legislation by January.

Even as he announced his resignation, Salmond was upbeat about Scotland's future.

"We now have the opportunity to hold Westminster's feet to the fire on the vow that they have made to devolve further meaningful power to Scotland," he said. "This places Scotland in a very strong position."

Salmond has been a key figure in Scottish politics, leading his party for 20 years and campaigning passionately for Scottish independence throughout his career. In 2007, he predicted the goal would be won within a decade - to the general disbelief even from supporters.

But it wasn't to be.

Scotland Votes 'No' to Independence in Referendum

"We have chosen unity over division," Alistair Darling, head of the No campaign, said earlier in Glasgow. "Today is a momentous day for Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole."

The vote riveted the world. In Washington, President Barack Obama welcomed Scotland's choice, and congratulated Scots for their "full and energetic exercise of democracy."

"Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling, who had given 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) to the No campaign, said she followed the returns overnight.

"Been up all night watching Scotland make history," she tweeted. "A huge turnout, a peaceful democratic process: we should be proud."

The No campaign won the capital city, Edinburgh, by a margin of 61 percent to 38 percent and triumphed by 59 percent to 41 percent in Aberdeen, the country's oil center. The Yes campaign won Glasgow, Scotland's biggest city, but it was not enough.

As dawn broke to lead-gray skies over Glasgow, the dream of independence that had seemed so tantalizingly close evaporated in the soft drizzle.

George Square, the rallying point for thousands of Yes supporters in the final days of the campaign, was littered with placards and debris of a campaign in which many had invested more than two years of their lives.

"I had never voted before or got involved with politics in any way but this time I thought my vote would count for something," said truck driver Calum Noble, 25, as his voice cracked with emotion. "I wanted a better country but it's all been for nothing. I don't believe we will get any of the things the London politicians promised."

But popular opinion on a leafy residential street in Edinburgh's west end told a different tale.

"Just because I'm not out in the street in a kilt screaming how Scottish I am, that doesn't mean I'm not a proud Scot. I am. And a proud Brit. That's the point the Yes side doesn't respect," said Ger Robertson, 47, who chose instead to celebrate Scotland's verdict in his living room with a dram of his favorite single-malt whiskey.

Salmond had argued that Scots could go it alone because of its extensive oil reserves and high levels of ingenuity and education. He said Scotland would flourish alone, free of interference from any London-based government.

Many saw it as a "heads versus hearts" campaign, with cautious older Scots concluding that independence would be too risky financially, while younger ones were enamored with the idea of building their own country.

The result saved Cameron from a historic defeat and also helped opposition chief Ed Miliband by keeping his many Labour Party lawmakers in Scotland in place. Labour would have found it much harder to win a national election in 2015 without that support from Scotland.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a Scot, returned to prominence with a dramatic barnstorming campaign in support of the union in the final days before the referendum vote. Brown argued passionately that Scots could be devoted to Scotland but still proud of their place in the U.K., rejecting the argument that independence was the patriotic choice.

For his part, Cameron - aware that his Conservative Party is widely loathed in Scotland - begged voters not to use a vote for independence as a way to bash the Tories.

The vote against independence keeps the United Kingdom from losing a substantial part of its territory and oil reserves and prevents it from having to find a new base for its nuclear arsenal, now housed in Scotland. It had also faced a possible loss of influence within international institutions including the 28-nation European Union, NATO and the United Nations.

The decision also means Britain can avoid a prolonged period of financial insecurity that had been predicted by some if Scotland broke away.

Salmond said he would serve until a new leader is elected in November, and that afterward he plans to continue to serve as a lawmaker in the Scottish Parliament.

"We lost the referendum vote, but can still carry the political initiative," he said. "More importantly Scotland can still emerge as the real winner."

More AOL Content:
French fighter jets swarm Iraq to bomb ISIS
Ukraine's pleas to US go unmet

Read Full Story

People are Reading