London, September 19
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron revealed on Thursday that he asked Queen Elizabeth II to intervene in the Scottish independence referendum, risking the irritation of the nominally neutral head of state.
Cameron, who led the successful campaign for Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom in the 2014 referendum, said he asked if she could offer even a “raising of the eyebrow” to indicate her opposition to independence.
He told the BBC he spoke with the queen’s private secretary, “not asking for anything that would be in any way improper or unconstitutional, but just a raising of the eyebrow, even, you know, a quarter of an inch—we thought would make a difference”.
A few days before the vote, the queen told a member of the public in Scotland that she hoped “people would think very carefully about the future”—comments that made headlines.
Scotland voted by 55 per cent to stay in the UK.
In a BBC documentary to mark the publication of his memoirs, Cameron said that “although the words were very limited, I think it helped to put a slightly different perception on things”.
Buckingham Palace told AFP it would not comment on his remarks, but a royal source told the BBC they had caused some displeasure.
“It serves no one’s interests” for conversations between the monarch and her prime ministers to be made public, the source was quoted as saying.
“It makes it very hard for the relationship to thrive.”
It is not the first time that the former Conservative leader has been indiscreet about his dealings with the queen, which by convention should remain secret.
Cameron was caught on camera describing how the monarch “purred down the line” after he phoned to inform her that Scotland had rejected independence.
Former Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond said the request for an intervention “is not only totally improper but an indication of how desperate prime minister Cameron” was in the referendum campaign.
Despite losing the 2014 vote, the independence movement in Scotland remains active, particularly since the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Scots voted to stay in the European Union but the UK as a whole voted to leave.
Cameron had led the anti-Brexit campaign and stepped down when it failed. — AFP