The dream of Scottish independence died at 6:17 a.m. (GMT), when an exhausted Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the moving force behind independence, conceded defeat.
“I accept the verdict of the people,” he told a crowd of tearful supporters. “And I call on all the people of Scotland to follow suit.”
The final tally, delivered by chief recording officer Mary Pitcaithly, was 55.4 percent for No and 44.6 for Yes.
It was the end of a boisterous and sometimes rancorous two-year campaign that engaged Scotland and the rest of the British Isles like no other political issue since the end of World War II.
“It’s fantastic,” said Hamish Macarthur, a retired chemical engineer, who spent the last month campaigning in his native Stirling. “But I’m not surprised. The Scottish people are not stupid, and what the nationalists offered was simply not credible.”
“I Feel Very Emotional”
For the Yes camp, it meant heartbreak. “It’s sad for the brave nation of Scotland to succumb to fear,” sighed Audrey Gilles, a former care worker from Hawick, in the Border country. “I feel very emotional.”
The first count came in Clackmannanshire, in central Scotland, with a 7 percent win for the Better Together campaign. From then on, defeat rained down like hammer blows on the head of Salmond, stuck at home in Aberdeen in heavy fog.
Inverclyde, an industrial area west of Glasgow, which the Yes campaign needed to win, went to No. So did East Renfrewshire, Midlothian, Perth, Kinross, and many others.
In Record Turnout Demographics Shape Scotland's Emphatic No Vote