By a Newsnet reporter
Promises from the three anti-independence parties that Scotland will be rewarded with more powers if voters reject Yes in the independence referendum, have been described as “flimsy and meaningless” after a string of Tory MPs voiced their opposition.
Less than 24 hours after the No camp’s last minute ‘vow’ on further powers – which fails to guarantee a single power that would come to Scotland – David Cameron is now facing a rebellion from disgruntled backbenchers with one Tory MP saying there would be a “bloodbath” in response.
With Scottish voters going to the polls tomorrow, and polls showing the two sides neck-and-neck, No campaigners were hoping the joint declaration from the leaders of all three Westminster parties would help persuade those yet to decide.
However significant doubt has been cast on the ability of the Better Together campaign to guarantee any new powers after the volume of opposition to more devolution for Scotland grew louder.
Tory MP Philip Davies said he would “not be voting” to support any moves that would grant more powers to Scotland in the event of a No vote. Brian Binley MP was reported to be “furious” about the offer while Mark Field MP said his “constituents will be aghast if the unbalanced devolution from 1979 is made even worse”.
Another Tory MP, Peter Bone, said he did not “see why the people of the East Midlands should be worse off to the tune of thousands” in order to give Scotland more powers.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said these developments are “absolute proof” that the only way to get the powers Scotland needs is to vote Yes tomorrow.
Following a visit with parents and children in Glasgow on the final day of campaigning, the Deputy First Minister said:
“The No camp’s panicked scramble to try and bribe the people of Scotland with a last minute flimsy and meaningless offer is fooling no-one.
“Despite the fact the ‘vow’ doesn’t guarantee a single power, it has taken less that 24 hours to fall apart – Tory MPs are already up in arms about it and it. They are desperate to grip onto power over Scotland and – in the event of a No vote – they would not let it go.
“This is absolute proof that the only way to guarantee Scotland gets the full powers we need to create more jobs, protect the NHS, and build a fairer Scotland for generations to come is to vote Yes.”
Last week, Tory MP Christopher Chope said there were enough Tory MPs to block any attempt to give Scotland more powers. Chope was discussing more powers on BBC Radio 4 when he was asked if he accepted that Westminster had now lost the power to veto further devolution.
The MP replied: “No, I don’t accept anything has been lost. If there is a No vote then it will be the status quo”.
Challenged by the presenter that it would not be no change, Chope replied: “It will be, because we can’t change the constitution without the approval of the United Kingdom Parliament and that seems to have been lost in this debate.”
Asked if there were enough Conservative MPs opposed to more powers who would vote to prevent further devolution, Mr Chope replied: “Well in isolation I’m sure there would be, because those powers would be powers for us to Scotland but there wouldn’t be any rebalance of the constitution …”
Ms Sturgeon added:
“With a Yes vote, we will no longer be hamstrung by Tories who want to keep power at Westminster.
“It is an opportunity to build a better Scotland. Scotland is a wealthy country and there is no longer any doubt that we can be a successful independent country. Both the Yes campaign and the No campaign agree on that.
“And with a Yes vote we will be able to ensure that everyone in Scotland is able to benefit from that wealth. With a Yes vote we will be able to secure the job creating powers we need so that all of our young people have the opportunity to fulfil their careers in Scotland.
“We will have access to the resources we need to deliver more and better childcare for all of Scotland’s families, and to secure higher education for all who want it, instead of seeing our resources wasted on nuclear weapons dumped on he Clyde.
“And we will be able to protect our NHS from Westminster cuts and privatisation south of the border, and pay a better and fairer pension to our older people.
“In recent weeks people across Scotland have woken up to the opportunity of independence. With a Yes vote, we can make that opportunity a reality and build a stronger more prosperous Scotland for the generations to come.”