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Scotland will definitely win new powers from London if it rejects independence, Nick Clegg, UK deputy prime minister, has promised, in an effort to assuage scepticism among some voters ahead of September’s referendum.
In a speech in Edinburgh on Monday, Mr Clegg will echo a pledge last week by David Cameron, prime minister, that offers of further devolution from the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats mean voting No will give Scotland more control over its fiscal affairs.
“All three parties are clear in their commitment,” Mr Clegg will say. “More powers will come.”
Mr Clegg’s visit follows the release of two polls that reinforce perceptions of a stalling in nationalist progress.
Mr Clegg’s Lib Dems have consistently backed greater devolution and he said Scotland should be able to decide the rates and bands for income, capital gains and inheritance taxes.
However, Labour has offered more limited powers while the Conservatives have yet to announce details of their plans and the deputy prime minister acknowledged that any package was yet to be negotiated.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s deputy first minister, said voters had yet to hear “anything very concrete” from the main UK parties and that similar pledges ahead of the 1979 referendum on a Scottish assembly had been quickly forgotten.
“Scotland was promised more powers if we voted No in the 1979 referendum – all we got was 18 years of a Tory government. I don’t think we should take that risk again,” Ms Sturgeon told the BBC. “We should guarantee more powers by voting Yes.”
In a boost to the pro-union campaign, ICM Research for Scotland on Sunday showed support for a Yes vote at 34 per cent, down five percentage points on last month, while 46 per cent of voters backed staying in the UK, up four points.
Another poll by Panelbase for The Sunday Times put support for independence at 40 per cent, unchanged from a month ago, with the No vote up two points to 47 per cent.
Panelbase also highlighted the potentially pivotal role of the more than 400,000 people of English origin living in Scotland, whom it suggested backed staying in the UK by a margin of more than three to one.
With people of English and other non-Scottish origin were excluded, the Sunday Times reported, 44 per cent of “Scots” favoured a Yes vote, with 42 per cent backing No.