Hexham MP Guy Opperman heads to Scotland urge voters to stay with the UK

Hexham MP Guy Opperman spent the weekend on a referendum battle bus to persuade voters in the Scottish Borders to stay with the UK

MP Guy Opperman and a group of unionists campaigning for the official No campaign in the Scottish Independence referendum
MP Guy Opperman and a group of unionists campaigning for the official No campaign in the Scottish Independence referendum

A North East MP has been leading a crusade over the border in a last ditch attempt to persuade voters “we are better together”.

Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham in Northumberland, and a group of 16 unionists from across the region headed north in a battle bus to say ‘No’ to Scottish independence.

Scots will vote on whether to become an independent country in just over two weeks time, on September 18.

Conservative Mr Opperman’s visit to the towns and villages just across the border from his constituency comes as polls showed the gap narrowing and the ‘No’ campaign leading by just six points.

Mr Opperman said the region stands to lose if Scotland votes for independence as it would pit the North East against its northern neighbours.

This would only further strengthen the economic powerhouse that is London and the wider South East, the MP warns.

He said: “Fundamentally I believe that independence for Scotland would not be in the best interests of my Northumberland constituents.

“I do not believe it is in the economic interests of the Scottish people to go independent, albeit I recognise that is entirely their decision to make.

“But we all stand to lose if Scotland leaves.”

Mr Opperman has previous warned of the economic risks for Northumberland if Scotland goes independent.

“The real danger is that we create a competition between Scotland and our region, rather than working together; that is a battle which no one wins,” he said.

“As a United Kingdom, we need to re-balance the economy towards the North, including both our region and Scotland.

“The only winner in a battle between an independent Scotland and the North East will be London and the South East.”

Mr Opperman led a team to the Borders on a referendum battle bus on Saturday to try and persuade the people of Jedburgh and Hawick to stay before September’s vote.

It also marked the day when the postal vote forms were landing on the doorsteps of all Scots.

On his journey, the MP learnt that a lot of problems are shared between the North East and Scotland.

He said: “One man I met whilst on the campaign trail in Hawick this week had not expected to see an English MP on his doorstep fighting for union.

“It mattered to him that it mattered to me. And that’s why we must all come together to show Scotland how much this union means to us, and how much we rely on one another.

“What struck me in these conversations most was our commonality. Our problems in Northumberland are Scotland’s problems.

“When last year whilst campaigning I was in Fordoun the people I met stressed that problems with heating oil was the major concern.

“When I was in North Perthshire I met representatives faced the same problems as our farmers in Hexham. When we face the same issues, why not unite to overcome them?

“We must not underestimate what lies ahead. We are in a serious struggle and it is vital that the Union is preserved.”

The MP will be heading back to Scotland on polling day, September 18 to support the ‘Better Together’ campaign.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer