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Jagger leads British celebs urging Scots to stay in UK

More than 200 British celebrities, including Mick Jagger, Stephen Hawking and Judi Dench, have signed a letter urging Scotland to stick with the United Kingdom in next month's independence referendum.

LONDON: More than 200 British celebrities, including Mick Jagger, Stephen Hawking and Judi Dench, have signed a letter urging Scotland to stick with the United Kingdom in next month's independence referendum. The open letter, presented on Thursday (Aug 7) in London, was signed by Oscar, Grammy and Nobel Prize winners, Olympic gold medallists, lords, knights of the realm, professors and novelists, representing "the best of British talent and intellect", according to the organisers.

Only people who live in Scotland get to vote in the September 18 referendum on whether to end the 307-year-old political union with England. The famous signatories calling for a "No" vote - Scots included - do not have a vote but are hoping those who do keep the union together.

"The decision on whether to leave our shared country is, of course, absolutely yours alone," the letter says. "Nevertheless, that decision will have a huge effect on all of us in the rest of the United Kingdom. We want to let you know how very much we value our bonds of citizenship with you, and to express our hope that you will vote to renew them. What unites us is much greater than what divides us. Let's stay together."

Hollywood stars included Dench, Patrick Stewart, Helena Bonham-Carter and Michael Douglas were on the list. Besides Jagger, singing signatories include Bryan Ferry, World War II forces sweetheart Vera Lynn, Cliff Richard, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sting.

Military commanders were joined by naturalist David Attenborough, artist Tracey Emin, explorer Ranulph Fiennes, novelist Howard Jacobsen, Monty Python comedian Terry Jones, "Top Gear" presenter James May and special forces hero Andy McNab. Olympic gold medallists including sailor Ben Ainslie, triple jumper Jonathan Edwards, rower Steve Redgrave, were among a host of sporting signatories.

Polls consistently put the "No" campaign ahead, though only by a handful of percentage points.

Prominent independence supporters include James Bond actor Sean Connery and "Trainspotting" novelist Irvine Welsh. A spokesman for the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign said: "It's great to know that Scotland has so many friends and admirers, and we know they will all continue to be our friends and admirers after we vote 'Yes' on September 18."

Tuesday saw the first head-to-head televised debate between the leaders of the "Yes" and "No" campaigns. Former British finance minister Alistair Darling, leading the "No" campaign, was declared the surprise winner over Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, largely on uncertainties surrounding the currency an independent Scotland would use.

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