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On Scotland vote, White House hopes for a united United Kingdom

A shopkeeper along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh makes his stance on the upcoming Sept. 18 independence referendum clear. He’s used the sales rack for the daily newspaper to proclaim his support for the pro-independence side, known as “Yes” (Lesley Clark/McClatchy/MCT)
A shopkeeper along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh makes his stance on the upcoming Sept. 18 independence referendum clear. He’s used the sales rack for the daily newspaper to proclaim his support for the pro-independence side, known as “Yes” (Lesley Clark/McClatchy/MCT) MCT

With Scottish voters heading to the polls on Thursday to decide whether or not to split from the United Kingdom, the White House is making it (sort of) clear that it prefers togetherness.

Asked at the daily press briefing about whether the administration is worried about the potential break up of one of its closest allies, Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated President Barack Obama’s remarks in June that the U.S. has a deep interest “in ensuring that one of the closest allies that we'll ever have remains strong, robust, united and an effective partner with the United States.”

Earnest noted it was a decision for Scottish voters, noting “we certainly respect the right of individual Scots to make a decision along these lines.” But, he added, “as the president himself said, we have an interest in seeing the United Kingdom remain strong, robust, united and an effective partner.”

The loss of Scotland could have repercussions for British Prime Minister David Cameron and could cost the UK clout at the United Nations and NATO. Earnest, however, wouldn’t say whether the administration believes the loss of Scotland would render the UK a less robust ally, saying that trying to answer “might be interpreted by some as unnecessarily or maybe even improperly interfering with a decision that should be rightly be made by the voters of Scotland.”

He said he believed there were officials in the administration looking at the implications of a divorce for U.S. policy, but that the talks weren’t at his level.

“We are confident that ultimately the people of Scotland will make a decision that they believe is in their best interest,” Earnest said.

Recent polls have shown voters almost evenly split, surprising many who had expected most voters to reject the call for independence.

Queen Elizabeth II weighed in for the first time after a church service Sunday in Scotland, urging Scots to "think very carefully about the future."

But the monarch didn't indicate a preference on how Scots should vote, but The Daily Mail called it the “strongest indication yet that Her Majesty wants the Union to stay together,” noting the Royal Family took the unusual step of inviting photographers to take pictures as she met with locals.

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