Prior to the meetings Cameron had defended the union, claiming that both Scotland and England would be weaker as independent nations.

“There is, for some smaller nations, the risk that independence can actually lead to greater dependence,” said Cameron.

“Of course, Scotland could govern itself. So could England, but we do it so much better together.

“The union helps to make Scotland stronger, safer, richer and fairer,” he added.

Cameron suggested the Scots reject full autonomy in favour of greater devolved power for the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh.

Salmond told the BBC that if Cameron was going to make any offers to greater devolusion then he should “spell it out now”.

Recent polls suggest that only between 30 and 40 per cent of Scots would vote for full independence. A result that Salmond was recently accused of trying to massage with his proposed referendum question.

Experts suggested that the SNP’s preferred ballot question: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” was “self-evidently biased”.

Cameron said he believed in the United Kingdom “head heart and soul,” and would be “deeply deeply sad,” if the Scots voted for independence.

This come despite that fact that Scottish devolution would leave Labour’s chances at the next election all but over.

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