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Cameron Begs Scotland: Please Don't Vote For Independence To Annoy "The Effing Tories"

The prime minister accepts his unpopularity in Scotland, but says he'll do almost anything to keep the country in the UK.

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Pool / Reuters

EDINBURGH – David Cameron flew to Edinburgh on Wednesday in a last-minute bid to avoid becoming the last prime minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

His stump speech to Scots against independence went something like this: You may dislike me, you may hate the Conservatives, but independence shouldn't be based on a flight of fancy. And please, please don't vote for independence just because you can't stand me and the other "effing Tories".

Although the meeting was presented as a chance for him to meet the Scottish public, it was held under tight security inside the Edinburgh head office of insurance firm Scottish Widows, which provided the friendly crowd. There was no chance of Cameron getting egged or being asked too many awkward questions.

Staff at the company were told late last night only that a "special guest" would be paying them a visit mid-morning. A few appeared a little deflated when journalists confirmed that, yes, it was the prime minister.

"People think it's like a general election, you make a decision and five years later you can make another decision" the prime minister told a few hundred staff and a handful of journalists crowded into the company's atrium. "If you are fed up with the effing Tories, give them a kick and then maybe we will think again."

vine.co / Via Sky News

He said it would be easier for his party to abandon Scotland, where it has just one MP, and instead aim for a majority in the parliament of the remaining part of the UK. But he insisted: "I care more about my country than my party."

Perhaps it was the corporate surroundings, the fact that bosses were watching, or a genuinely broad support for Better Together among the audience, but the nearest the crowd got to a critical question was when a woman asked whether "Westminster MPs would defer their pay rise" to keep Scotland, and requested the removal of Trident nuclear missiles.

Cameron pledged to abide by the result of the vote, even if Scotland takes the "heartbreaking" decision to vote for independence and he has to work on the disintegration of his own nation.

"We would have to make it happen," he said. "You can't hold people within the United Kingdom against their will. We in many ways are a model to the rest of the world."

Instead, he tried an emotional pitch on the brilliance of the existing union: "It works. And the whole world looks at the United Kingdom and thinks: What an extraordinary country that has done extraordinary things."

An hour earlier and just up the road, SNP leader Alex Salmond and his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, were wandering around Edinburgh, surrounded by supporters brandishing "YES" placards.

Cameron, in contrast, was driven straight into the underground car park of the Scottish Widows building in a blacked-out vehicle, and afterwards headed straight back out to visit a local company.

"I hoped he would walk about," said a woman, a No supporter stood by the ramp as he sped past.

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at jim.waterson@buzzfeed.com.

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