Buckingham Palace ‘displeased’ at David Cameron’s comments about the Queen and Scottish independence referendum
Written by News on 19/09/2019
David Cameron’s admission that he tried to get the Queen to help him head off Scottish independence has caused “an amount of displeasure” in Buckingham Palace.
The then-prime minister sought the monarch’s help after he was “panicked” by a poll during the 2014 referendum campaign which suggested a lead for those wanting to leave the United Kingdom.
In an interview with the BBC to publicise his memoirs, For the Record, he said he was not suggesting anything “improper” or “unconstitutional”.
But he admitted saying to Palace officials that “just a raising of the eyebrow” might imply the Queen’s views on independence and help the No campaign.
A few days before the 18 September 2014 vote, the monarch told a member of the public in Scotland she hoped “people would think very carefully about the future”.
Mr Cameron said he was staying at Balmoral when the poll came out and its findings felt like “a blow to the solar plexus”.
He added it led to a “mounting sense of panic that this could go the wrong way”.
Mr Cameron said: “I remember conversations I had with my private secretary and he had with the Queen’s private secretary and I had 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.”
The former PM’s remarks have now led to “an amount of displeasure” in Buckingham Palace.
In the run up to the 2014 referendum it was reported that the Queen was herself becoming increasingly concerned about the outcome of the vote.
Referring to the Queen’s comment that she hoped people would think carefully about the future, Mr Cameron said: “Although the words were very limited, I think it helped to put a slightly different perception on things.”
At the time officials insisted that the comments did not breach the monarch’s constitutional impartiality.
A statement issued by Buckingham Palace said: “The sovereign’s constitutional impartiality is an established principle of our democracy and one which the Queen has demonstrated throughout her reign.
“As such, the monarch is above politics and those in political office have a duty to ensure this remains the case.
“Any suggestion that the Queen would wish to influence the outcome of the current referendum campaign is categorically wrong. Her Majesty is simply of the view this is a matter for the people of Scotland.”
At First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon was asked whether she had concerns about the Queen being asked to interfere in a second independence referendum.
She responded: “I think the revelations – if I can call them that – from David Cameron today say more about him than they do about anybody else, and really demonstrate the panic that was in the heart of the UK government in the run-up to the independence referendum five years ago.”
The Scottish independence referendum campaign was bitterly fought, dividing families and at times leading to accusations of bullying and intimidation.
In the end, Scotland voted to remain part of the UK by 55% to 45%.