The leaders of the main UK parties have been accused of referendum complacency – and warned a Yes vote would be a “national humiliation of catastrophic proportions”.
The battle over Scotland’s future dominated the penultimate prime minister’s questions before voters make their historic judgement on September 18.
David Cameron claimed the SNP’s threat to walk away from UK debt was the most “chilling” event of the campaign so far, and dismissed fresh support for the idea that Scotland would be welcomed into Nato.
However the prime minister, and his Labour and Liberal Democrat counterparts, were also rebuked by a Tory backbencher for not doing enough to save the 300-year-old Union.
Sir Edward Leigh, the MP for Gainsborough, said: “For all the reasons that have been given, if we were to lose the Union, it would be not only a disaster for Scotland, but a national humiliation of catastrophic proportions.
“I say gently to the three party leaders that perhaps we have been a bit complacent up to now.
“I urge them, over the next two weeks, to drop everything else and stand shoulder to shoulder to fight for the Union that we love and believe in.”
Mr Cameron responded: “I agree with my honourable friend about the importance of the referendum.
“The leaders of the parties in this House have all put aside their differences and said that, in spite of the political differences we have, we all agree about one thing: not only is Scotland better off inside the United Kingdom, but the United Kingdom is better off with Scotland inside it.
“As well as being leader of the Conservative party and prime minister, I am the member of parliament for an English seat and I say on behalf of everyone in England and, I believe, in Wales and Northern Ireland – ‘we want Scotland to stay’.”
Speaker John Bercow was forced to interrupt the exchanges to tell Angus MacNeil, SNP Western Isles MP, that he was “over-excitable” and should “calm down”.
Mr Cameron was also asked about the SNP’s claim that it would be entitled to walk away from UK debt if Scotland was denied a currency union by the Treasury.
“I think one of the most chilling things that has been said in the referendum campaign is that a separate Scotland would consider defaulting on its debts,” he said.
A source close First Minister Alex Salmond said: “The fact PMQs was dominated by questions about Scotland’s referendum shows just how rattled the Westminster establishment now are, as the polls narrow rapidly and momentum for a Yes vote continues to build.”