Key Events So Far
- Scotland has voted against independence. The final tally gave Yes 44.7% of the vote and No 55.3%.
- Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, is stepping down from the role and as SNP party leader.
- The prime minister congratulated No campaign leader Alistair Darling.
- Glasgow voted Yes – but not by a wide enough margin for the Yes campaign. Edinburgh voted No.
- Turnout appears to have been lower in many Yes-supporting areas.
Alex Salmond has announced he is to stand down as Scotland's first minister and leader of the SNP.
President Obama has "welcomed" the result of yesterday's referendum.
What happens now?
Well, David Cameron has kept his job. He's promised that English devolution will be addressed. Lord Smith of Kelvin has been given the job of overseeing the further devolution of taxation, spending, and benefits.
As ITV's Chris Ship writes: "It will mean addressing the decades-long issue known as the 'West Lothian Question' (named after the constituency of the MP who first raised it, Tam Dalyell). Essentially it goes: Why should MPs from Scotland vote on matters which apply only to England, like health and education, and now (with the new powers promised to Scotland) also income tax?"
The BBC's Nick Robinson points out that David Cameron's efforts to answer the West Lothian Question "could create two classes of MP. It might mean a government has a majority to pass certain laws but not others (if, for example, the next Labour government did not have a majority of MPs in England). ... This referendum may have ended one debate in Scotland – for now. It has, however, lit the touchpaper on the explosive question of where power lies in the UK."
He adds: "They have agreed on a timetable for giving more powers to the Scottish parliament but are a long, long way from agreeing proposals. Alex Salmond may have lost this vote but he remains Scotland's first minister. He's unlikely to merely accept what is offered up by his opponent."
Here's a side-by-side comparison of how Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling looked following the result.
With just one council, Highland, left to declare, this is what the map of the referendum results looks like.
The Yes campaign won a majority in just four of the 31 areas that have declared; in almost two-thirds of areas, the No vote won by more than 10 percentage points.
The total vote tallies stand like this.
No has won 55.4% of the vote, with Yes taking 44.6%. The turnout was record-breaking 84.5%, higher than in any other referendum in the UK, and higher than the 84% of the 1950 general election – the record holder for the highest turnout a UK-wide vote.
David Cameron has responded to the result outside 10 Downing Street.
The people of Scotland have spoken and it is a clear result. They've kept our country of four nations together and like millions of other people, I am delighted. As I said during the campaign, it would have broken my heart to see our United Kingdom come to an end. And I know that sentiment was shared by people not just across our country, but also around the world. Because of what we've achieved together in the past and what we can do together in the future. So now it's time for our UK to come together and move forward. A vital part of that will be a balanced settlement fair to people in Scotland, and, importantly, to people in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland too. Let us remember first why we had this debate and why it was right to do so. The Scottish National Party was elected in Scotland in 2011 and promised a referendum on independence. We could've tried to block that, we could've tried to put it off, but ... it is right to take and not to duck, the big decision. I am a passionate believer in our United Kingdom, and I wanted more than anything for our United Kingdom to stay together. But I'm also a democrat, and it was right that we respected the SNP's majority in Holyrood and gave the Scottish people the right to have their say. ...Now the debate has been settled for a generation, or, as Alex Salmond has said, perhaps for a lifetime. So there can be no disputes, no reruns. We have heard the will of the Scottish people. I want to congratulate the No campaign for showing that our nations are better together. ... We now have a chance, a great opportunity, to change the way that people are governed and change it for the better. Political leaders on all sides of the debate now bear a heavy responsibility to come together and work constructively. ... We have delivered on devolution and we will do so again in the next parliament. We will ensure those commitments are honoured in full. I can announce today Lord Smith of Kelvin [the chairman of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games] ... has agreed to oversee the process to take forward these devolution commitments. ... Record numbers registered to vote and record numbers cast their vote. We should all be proud of that. It has reminded us how fortunate we are. ... Now we must look forward and turn this into the moment when everyone, whichever way they voted, comes together, to build that better, brighter future for our entire United Kingdom.
Ed Miliband has responded on Twitter.
He would go on to announce that he backs devolved powers for all nations of the UK.
Supporters of the Yes campaign sit in Glasgow's George Square in the early hours of the morning.
No has won by 55% to 45% in Fife. The official result of the referendum is No.
Alex Salmond has addressed his supporters in Edinburgh.
We know there's going to be a majority for the No campaign. It's important to say our referendum was an agreed and consented process. ...I accept that verdict of the people, and I call on all of Scotland to follow suit and accept that democratic verdict of the people of Scotland. ... That 1.6 million votes is a substantial vote for Scottish independence and the future of this country. I think the process by which we've made our decision as a nation reflects enormous credit upon Scotland. A turnout of 86% is one of the highest in the democratic world, in any election or any referendum in history. This has been a triumph for the democratic process and politics. ... The initiative by which 16- and 17-year-olds were able to vote has proved to be a resounding success. I suspect no one will ever question their right to participate in democratic elections. ...Scotland will expect pledges to devolve powers to be honoured in rapid course. We're being promised a second reading of a Scotland Bill by March 27 next year. Not just the 1.6 million Scots who voted for independence, but all Scots will demand that timetable is followed. ...The most moving thing I saw was the queue of people in Dundee patiently waiting to vote. I met a ... 61-year-old lady who'd never voted in her life... These people were inspired to enter democratic politics... Whatever else we can say about this referendum campaign we've touched sections of the community who have never before been touched by the democratic process. ... We shall go forward as one nation.
Alistair Darling has now responded to the result at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow.
We've chosen unity over division. ... Today is a momentous result for Scotland and the UK as a whole. ... We've reaffirmed the bonds that tie us together – let them never be broken. ...As we celebrate, let us also listen. I understand amongst those who supported Yes there'll be disappointment and grief. ...The debate has created deep divisions in our country. ... Those divisions now need to be addressed, and that requires leadership.
This are the two camps, just moments ago.
Pro-independence activists are sitting, dejected, in a room above the hall where the final results will be announced in Edinburgh.
No voters continue to have a significant presence in the Royal Highland Centre, where moments ago they were cheering along to an overarching victory for the Better Together campaign in Edinburgh city.
But while Yes voters were out in force in the main hall earlier, the majority of those who remain are now sitting down in a designated area in a corner of the centre. Many others have now gone home.
Two pro-independence campaigners tried to find joy, and sang about never giving up, but the majority of supporters could not bring themselves to find any hope.
The Scottish capital and the area containing Alex Salmond's parliamentary seat have rejected independence.
Alistair Darling appears to have acknowledged the result.
Yes activists are in tears at the centre where the result of the independence referendum result will be declared, as the scale of the defeat becomes clear.
Amie Robertson of the Radical Independence campaign, was left in tears after a heated discussion broke out between her, the Scottish Greens' Bryony MacLeod, 27, and a Labour councillor.
MacLeod said Yes voters want to know how they can work together, with independence looking like an almost impossible conclusion.
She said: "We just want answers and were asking how we can work together. She [the councillor] just said she doesn't want to talk to us. Perhaps it's just the wrong time – it's late."
Robertson previously told BuzzFeed News that more women needed to be seen discussing the independence on television. With the media scrum that emerged, she's sure to have increased the tally tonight.
It's all over bar the shouting – Scotland has rejected independence.
Both the BBC and Sky are forecasting a win for No. The Guardian said: "With more than half of Scotland's local authorities having declared including the major cities of Glasgow and Aberdeen, an estimated 55% of voters were expected to reject Alex Salmond's prospectus for independence."
Alex Salmond and David Cameron both appeared to acknowledge the result.
Nicola Sturgeon has given an interview to BBC News. She said it is a "clear disappointment" if the forecasts are correct, and said she will work with anybody "to deliver empowerment".
Peter Hain, the former Labour cabinet minister, described it as "a vote against the Westminster elite".
He told the BBC: "The prime minister and party leaders have to seize this opportunity... the decision has to be ... radical. There's such a strong feeling against the way politics is done. Scotland has spoken and said it wants change to sweep across the UK, and that includes England. ...
"The big unanswered question has been the English question – people in Cornwall and the northeast ... don't want to be ruled from London any more than Scotland did... There are conservative forces in all parties who don't like change... We've discredited ourselves in recent years and people are fed up with us.
"There should be a federal Westminster parliament, along with legislatures in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the regions. There should be real devolved power to the communities and city regions of England, from Cornwall to the northeast."
Glasgow result: NO 169,347 (46.5%) – YES 194,779 (53.5%)
It's a win for Yes in Glasgow, the city they were pinning their hopes on – but it's almost certainly not a big enough win to make up the ground they've lost elsewhere.
East Renfrewshire: NO 41,690 – YES 24,287 Dumfries & Galloway: NO 70,039 – YES 36,614 East Dunbartonshire: NO 48,314 – YES 30,642 Aberdeen: NO 84,094 – YES 59,390
National totals: NO 670,354 – YES 521,459
Falkirk result: NO 58,030 (53%) – 50,489 (47%)
That result puts the national totals at 53.2% to No, 46.8% to Yes.
Some Yes supporters are close to admitting defeat.
Many supporters of the Yes campaign, including a number of MSPs, have admitted defeat with hours left until the final count comes in.
Although a number of large Scottish cities have yet to announce their results, there have been a number of surprises as areas expected to show a Yes vote have often returned a No victory.
Jim Eadie, an MSP for the Scottish Nationalist Party, admitted to BuzzFeed News that "early indications suggest it's going to be a No", adding that "large turnouts in this referendum must be a good thing for democracy".
Meanwhile, SNP councillor Barry Hanniford left the count in Edinburgh early to go home as results started showing a swing towards a No vote. He said: "Scotland isn't going to get its freedom, and I think that's a tragedy. I think this is going to be one of the darkest days in Scotland's history.
"This is the time to stand up for what any rational person can see is Scotland's chance to take its place in the world."
But Sandy Howat, another SNP councillor, remains cautiously optimistic about the result. He said: "If you were going to put money on something, you would probably put money on a No victory, but I'm not willing to say it'll be a No vote just yet. I still think there's some important decisions to come from Glasgow."
He admitted, however, that he was expecting a higher turnout in Glasgow, which might have the final say on the eventual winner. He said: "It might actually come down to se if Glasgow voted in enough numbers as we are playing catch up. But 75% might just be enough."
West Dunbartonshire result: NO 28,776 (46%) – YES 33,720 (54%)
Another victory for Yes, in an area they were expected to do well in. And they'll be pleased with the 88% turnout too.
Midlothian result: NO 33,972 (56%) – YES 26,370 (44%)
And what Yes gains in Dunbartonshire, they lose in Midlothian a few minutes later...
On the BBC, Midlothian was described as a "bellwether" – suggesting again that Yes have failed to do enough to win the referendum.
East Lothian result: NO 44,283 (62%) – 27,467 (38%)
Stirling result: NO 37,153 (60%) – 25,010 (40%)
Lots of results are coming in at once, and they're mostly going the way of the No camp.
Meanwhile Yes supporters are singing outside the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh.
Results: Renfrewshire NO 62,067 (53%) – YES 55,466 (47%); Dundee YES 53,620 (57%) – NO 39,880 (43%)
The much larger populations of Renfrewshire and Dundee have declared, and the Yes campaign has its first victory. That moves the national totals considerably closer – 178,811 No to 172,426 Yes, marginally tighter than a 51% to 49% split.
However, the Yes camp's turnout worries are still there – Dundee's turnout was 79%, compared with 87% in Renfrewshire.
"Reform is coming," promised the Scottish secretary.
Alastair Carmichael, secretary of state for Scotland, has rejected any notion that backbench Conservative MPs will block devolution powers.
Many Yes voters have said they do not believe plans by "Westminster politicians" to give Scotland more devolved powers in the event of a No vote, and many have suggested that if there's an overarching rejection of independence, MPs will come out against giving Scotland more powers.
But Carmichael told BuzzFeed News that there will be change in Scotland, regardless of the vote. He said: "This is not something that is under control of a handful of Tory MPs. it commands the support of the leaders of the Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Labour parties. It's not unusual for there to be unhappy people in any party but that will not be a block.
"Reform is coming."
Inverclyde result: NO 27,329 (50.08%) – YES 27,243 (49.92%)
Inverclyde likes to keep everybody in suspense, the big tease.
That incredibly close result means that the first five councils to declare have all voted No, giving the pro-union campaign a nationwide lead of 13,524 votes. They're currently on 54.8% of the vote, compared to Yes's 45.2%.
While we're waiting for another declaration, here's a map of the results so far. They've all been in No's favour.
Eilean Siar result: NO 10,544 (53%) – YES 9,195 (47%)
Sadly, we don't have a cute animal picture for Eilean Siar (previously known as the Western Isles).
Shetland result: NO 9,951 (64%) – YES 5,669 (36%)
Another island area votes No strongly.
Here is a picture of a Jack Russell riding on a Shetland pony.
Orkney result: NO 10,004 (67%) – YES 4,883 (33%)
Orkney's 14,907 voters deliver a not-unexpected rejection of the Yes campaign.
By the way, if you like maps, we're keeping our live map updated over here as every result comes in.
What's happened to the Yes turnout?
The scenes in Glasgow's streets might show an elated crowd of Yes supporters, but voter turnout in key areas looks likely to be a major disappointment for the Yes campaign.
While voter turnout in the Yes stronghold of Dundee came in at a normally impressive 78.8%, this is behind many other areas, which are reporting turnout figures in the high 80s and even 90s. Glasgow, another major city that Yes supporters were pinning their hopes on, is reported to be even lower, on 75%. The Yes campaign was hoping that the so-called "missing million" – that is, citizens who have registered to vote for the first time – would show up. Time and again, supporters of the Yes campaign told BuzzFeed News that those who had never voted before were coming out in support of the Yes campaign.
But that doesn't seem to be holding true. The first result, the council of Clackmannanshire, predicted to be a stronghold for the Yes campaign, showed a victory for the No campaign, with 19,036 against 16,350, a turnout of 88%.
Clackmannanshire result: NO 19, 036 (54%) – YES 16,350 (46%)
We have our first result of the night, from the very small Clackmannanshire. And it's a disappointing result for the Yes campaign, with an easy win for No.
These pictures of "voter fraud" in Dundee don't actually show fraud.
These images have circulated widely on Twitter since they appeared on Sky News, apparently showing a ballot paper clearly marked "Yes" in a pile allocated to No votes.
But the Yes campaign in Dundee have clarified that they are merely votes waiting to be counted – not ones that have been counted already.
We have our first official figure of something for the night. It's a turnout figure. In Orkney.
In real numbers, that means 14,907 people voted. How they voted, we won't know for a while...
Not to be outdone, Clackmannanshire also has an official turnout figure.
And in more turnout news:
There's more evidence that we're likely to see a very high turnout from the postal vote turnouts in various council areas:
Turnout is expected to be very high in the referendum, but possibly not quite as high as the 110% that CNN seems to be predicting.
In the interests of full disclosure, earlier today this post briefly suggested that a poll gave the No campaign a 53% to 49% lead.
Polling organisation YouGov predicts an eight-point win for the No campaign.
It's worth noting that this is not an exit poll, as no exit polls have been taken for the referendum (as The Guardian explains, this is because nobody wanted to pay for one.) It is, however, based on YouGov contacting individuals it had previously polled after they voted, so may be the closest we'll get to an exit poll tonight.
When will we get the results?
It will be several hours before we get the first results from the referendum. Each of Scotland's 32 local councils will declare their results separately, feeding their results into the central count in Ingliston, near to Edinburgh.
The Press Association has a useful guide to the estimated times that different councils will announce their results. Among the first expected to declare will be remote areas with small populations, such as Orkney – they are expected to declare between 1.30am and 2am. Other councils with larger populations (which may be a better guide to the final result) that may declare around 2am are North Lanarkshire and Perth & Kinross.
Aberdeenshire and South Lanarkshire are expected around 3am, and Fife around 4am. But the key declarations from the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen, which between them have over a quarter of the population and could prove decisive, are unlikely to happen before 5am or later.
The final results may not arrive until around 6.30am or later – and, if the vote is any closer than the opinion polls predicted, could still be key in determining the result.
Catalan activists arrange candles in the shape of Catalonia's and Scotland's flags in front of St Gilles Cathedral in Edinburgh.
Polls have now closed.
However, authorities have said that anybody who was queuing to vote by 10pm will still be allowed to cast their ballot.
There are 15 minutes until the polls close.
If you live in Scotland, want to vote and haven't yet, now would be an ideal time to do it.
Sky News' Kay Burley reports that 87% of possible postal votes have been cast in Glasgow.
This is the current scene in the streets of Glasgow, where "hundreds" of people are starting to gather.
Complete with a group of motorbikes.
With just a few hours to go until polls close, here is a recap of what you may have missed today:
- Three opinion polls were released last night, and one this morning, and all indicated that Scotland is likely to vote against independence by a narrow margin.
- However, the poll results did not deter any Yes voters. They've been campaigning all day, including a man playing flame-throwing bagpipes.
- Many Yes voters have told BuzzFeed News that they are motivated to vote Yes by a desire to attack the Tories.
- A dog remains undecided on which way to vote.
The Guardian's Scotland correspondent is saying Falkirk council have confirmed that rumours of polling stations closing early are false.
Important sighting: The Loch Yes Monster was spotted making his way to the polling station.
Harry Enten, senior political writer for FiveThirtyEight, shares some information that helps put the population of Scotland into perspective for our American friends.
Lots of voters have been motivated to vote Yes by a desire to attack the Tories.
Time and time again, Yes voters told BuzzFeed News that hatred of anything to do with Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative party was one of the main reasons they were voting for independence. Here are some pictures from the campaign:
The message was everywhere:
The Liverpool Echo is reporting that former Merseyside council leader Marie Rimmer has been arrested and charged with assault following an incident at a Glasgow polling station earlier today.
Rimmer, who is the prospective Labour MP for St Helens South, was apparently campaigning for a No vote at the Shettleston Community Centre in Glasgow when a dispute broke out between Yes and No supporters.
Police Scotland put out the following statement: "Police Scotland can confirm that a 61-year-old woman has been arrested and charged with an alleged assault on a female in an incident at the Shettleston Community centre in Amulree Street, Glasgow at around 1pm today. A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal."
At least one dog in Glasgow has yet to make up his mind.
A coffee shop in the Morningside area of Edinburgh is using the referendum to entice people in for coffee.
Alex Salmond in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, with a Yes voter.
A fish and chip shop in Morley, West Yorkshire, is selling battered salmon as a one-day-only special.
William Wallace has been spotted in Edinburgh.
German shorthaired pointer dogs Dude and Hector meet first minister Alex Salmond.
You may be asking yourself, how are Scottish landscapes voting? Here's what we know so far.
This field on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, and this pony, are voting No.
The Isle of Lewis, and also these sheep, are voting Yes.
This smaller island off the Isle of Lewis is also voting Yes, although it sadly has no sheep.
Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, has just tweeted a photo showing how the company is celebrating the #IndyRef.
It's not just Scots who have been getting involved in the referendum campaign.
As many as 300 Catalan independence activists are converging on Scotland, some of them having driven all the way from Spain to lend their support to the Yes campaign.
Lluis Riera, 40, told BuzzFeed News that the Scottish campaign is inspiring Catalonian activists back in Spain. "If you open one door," he said, "you will find an entrance for more nations."
And Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru has flown in a large number of activists to lend a hand to their Scottish colleagues.
"There's about a hundred of us up here," said Owen John Thomas, a former Plaid Cymru politician wandering about handing out Yes stickers.
He and his fellow Welsh activists reckon if Scotland goes independent and gets more powers then they'll have a better chance of securing greater autonomy for Wales.
Also, this guy:
Meanwhile, in major international news, BuzzFeed News has received a statement from the tiny Moldovan breakaway republic of Transnistria about its position on Scottish independence.
"Pridnestrovian people," it says, "believe it is the method of state formation through referendum which provides its democratic character. The right of peoples to self-determination is one of the most important and inalienable rights, which are enshrined in international documents, recognised by the world civilised community.
"We believe that the voice of the Scottish people must be heard by the world community."
So that's that cleared up then.
The Daily Mail's John Stevens reports that an arrest has been made at a polling station (it's not yet clear where).
There was also upset earlier at pro-Yes campaign graffiti that had been sprayed on a polling station.
But generally, things seem to be going fairly calmly so far.
The final poll of the campaign has been released, and it puts No ahead by six points.
This is especially interesting because the Ipsos-MORI poll released last night showed the tightest race of all three polls. It's more evidence that the No campaign may be on course for victory.
The poll's suggestion that 95% plan to vote is another indication that we could see a record turnout for a British election. This useful graphic shows exactly how high the turnout would have to be to break various different records: