LONDON, Sept 11, (RTRS): If Scots vote for independence next week, Prime Minister David Cameron could face fierce pressure to resign less than eight months before a national election, lawmakers in his party say. Avote to break up the United Kingdom would throw British politics into turmoil and while Cameron has repeatedly insisted he will not quit, secession might well mark the beginning of the end for his leadership. Bookmakers Ladbrokes have slashed the odds on Cameron being replaced this year to 4/1 from 16/1 in just two days since opinion polls showed a surge of support for independence.
Some lawmakers in the influential Conservative 1922 Committee, regarded as a barometer of the party’s mood, have been canvassing opinion on whether Cameron would retain their confidence in the event of a lost referendum, a Conservative lawmaker told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “He is going to get the blame if there is a “Yes” vote,” the lawmaker said, adding that he expected several members of the party would call publicly for Cameron to go if that happened.
Support among Conservative back-benchers could be further eroded if the UK Independence Party wins its first parliamentary seat in a byelection next month caused by the defection of one of their Eurosceptic colleagues to the anti- EU movement. The Conservatives have a long history of ousting leaders if lawmakers fear for their own reelection.
Many are already concerned that UKIP could swallow their vote. It was Cameron who agreed to hold the Scottish vote and he who vetoed putting a third option offering greater devolution on ballot papers, betting that a stark yes/no choice on independence would deliver a clear victory for the status quo. When asked if he would resign last week, Cameron said: “No ... emphatically.” Senior ministers, including finance minister George Osborne, tipped as a possible future leader, have echoed that view. But going down in history as the man who presided over the break-up of the United Kingdom could be fatal for the leader of a party officially known as the Conservative and Unionist Party. It adopted that name in 1912 to stress its commitment to preserving the union in the face of Irish nationalism.
Former Conservative prime minister John Major, chosen after a back-bench revolt toppled three-time winner Margaret Thatcher in 1990, said Britain would be vastly diminished by a Scottish exit. “Our role in NATO would be reduced, our relations consequently with the United States would be damaged. The United Kingdom would be weaker in every international body it attends, it certainly would be weaker in the European Union in the forthcoming negotiations,” he told BBC Radio.