Independence 'will benefit Wales'

Maldon and Burnham Standard: First Minister Alex Salmond said independence will also bring benefits to the north of England First Minister Alex Salmond said independence will also bring benefits to the north of England

Scottish independence will bring potential benefits and opportunities for people living in the north of England and Wales, Scotland's First Minister has said.

Alex Salmond said many councils in the north of England are "seeing an opportunity" to establish a closer relationship with Scotland, while there are many people in Wales "cheering Scotland on".

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Salmond referred to northern English councils' proposals to collaborate far more closely with their Scottish neighbours, as part of the "Borderlands" initiative.

Mr Salmond said: "They see the power centre moving north as a potential benefit and counter-balance in the huge gravitational pull of London, which has such an influence, and in many ways damages the economy of the regions of England even more than it damages the economy of Scotland.

"It is not for me to intervene in English affairs, but if you want a commentary, if I were a politician in the north of England, I would be campaigning avidly for more economic and political powers for that area."

He added: "There are many people in Wales for example cheering Scotland on, because the tendency over the last generation has been that as Scotland has had increased power Wales has followed that. Therefore it has been a good thing for other areas of the country."

Asked about campaign plans in the lead up to the independence referendum, Mr Salmond said: "I have absolutely no doubt there'll be a range of amazements over the next eight months or so."

A new poll has suggested that almost half of Scots would be "dismayed" if they woke up on September 19, the day after the referendum, and found that Scotland had voted for independence.

The YouGov poll for Sky News asked 840 Scots which statement came closest to their view when they imagined that a yes vote had been successful.

The survey found that 46% of people would be "dismayed", 25% would be "delighted", 17% "wouldn't mind" and 11% did not know.

The same question was posed to 1,695 people in England and Wales, with 46% stating they "wouldn't mind", 34% would be "dismayed", 11% would be "delighted", and 9% did not know.

Leader of the Better Together pro-union campaign Alistair Darling warned against relying on one poll.

He told Sky News that another recent poll had shown that the "majority of people did want Scotland to remain part of the UK".

"My view is that the whole country would be diminished if any one part of it left," he said.

"The argument is one that I suspect will mount more south of the Border, because at the moment this debate about the referendum and independence has largely been confined to Scotland."

He added: "The advantage...the opportunities that come from being part of something bigger, in terms of jobs because we've got a bigger economy, in terms of the clout we have in the European Union and other international organisations, as well the bonds between the four countries.

"I think you have to think long and hard about throwing that away."

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