Tom Daley is one of 200 public figures to support a "No" vote in Scotland. Photo: Getty
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Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough and Tom Daley among 200 famous faces calling for a Scotland No vote

Two hundred public figures have signed an open letter addressed to the people of Scotland, calling on them to vote "No" in the independence referendum.

There could now be a new breed of celebrity: the “No-list”. Because 200 public figures – including the Olympic diver Tom Daley, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, physicist Stephen Hawking, broadcaster David Attenborough, actor Judi Dench, classicist Mary Beard and the journalists Jemima Khan and Mehdi Hasan – have signed an open letter imploring the people of Scotland to stay in the union.

Other well-known names who have signed the letter include the actor Helena Bonham-Carter, musician Sting, authors William Boyd, William Dalrymple and Malorie Blackman, comedians Jo Brand, Robert Webb and Steve Coogan, and the artist Tracey Emin.

The wide range of signatories on the letter, from Nobel prize winners to Turner prize winners, is a big boost to the Better Together campaign as it fights the battle against independence in the last weeks leading up to the referendum on 18 September.

Here's the letter:

Dear Voters of Scotland,
 
The decision on whether to leave our shared country is, of course, absolutely yours alone. Nevertheless, that decision will have a huge effect on all of us, Scots and non-Scots, 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.
 
Yours,

William Dalrymple
Eddie Izzard
Sir Patrick Stewart
Sir Bruce Forsyth
Sir Mick Jagger
Stephen Hawking
Jenny Agutter
Sir Ben Ainslie
Kriss Akabusi
Roger Allam
Kirstie Allsop
Alexander Armstrong
Sir David Attenborough
Steve Backley
Baroness Joan Bakewell
Frances Barber
Andy Barrow
John Barrowman
Mike Batt
Glen Baxter
David Aaronovitch
Helena Bonham-Carter
Stanley Baxter
Martin Bayfield
Mary Beard
Sarah Beeny
Anthony Beevor
Angelica Bell
Dickie Bird
Cilla Black
Graeme Black
Roger Black
Malorie Blackman
Ranjit Bolt
Alain de Botton
William Boyd
Tracey Brabin
Lord Melvyn Bragg
Jo Brand
Gyles Brandreth
Rob Brydon
Louisa Buck
Simon Callow
Will Carling
Paul Cartledge
Guy Chambers
Nick Cohen
Michelle Collins
Colonel Tim Collins
Olivia Colman
Charlie Condou
Susannah Constantine
Steve Coogan
Dominic Cooper
Ronnie Corbett
Simon Cowell
Jason Cowley
Sara Cox
Amanda Craig
Steve Cram
Richard Curtis
Tom Daley
Richard Dawkins
Dame Judi Dench
Jeremy Deller
Lord Michael Dobbs
Jimmy Doherty
Michael Douglas
Simon Easterby
Gareth Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
Tracey Emin
Sebastian Faulks
Bryan Ferry
Ranulph Fiennes
Ben Fogle
Amanda Foreman
Neil Fox
Emma Freud
Bernard Gallacher
Kirsty Gallacher
George Galloway
Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Bamber Gascoigne
David Gilmour
Harvey Goldsmith
David Goodhart
Lachlan Goudie
David Gower
AC Grayling
Will Greenwood
Tamsin Greig
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson
Lord Charles Guthrie
Haydn Gwynne
Maggi Hambling
Mehdi Hasan
Sir Max Hastings
Peter Hennessy
James Holland
Tom Holland
Tom Hollander
Gloria Hunniford
Conn Iggledun
John Illsley
Brendan Ingle
Betty Jackson
Sir Mike Jackson
Howard Jacobson
Baroness PD James
Griff Rhys Jones
Terry Jones
Christopher Kane
Sir Anish Kapoor
Ross Kemp
Paul Kenny
Jemima Khan
India Knight
Martha Lane Fox
Baroness Doreen Lawrence
Tory Lawrence
Kathy Lette
Rod Liddle
Louise Linton
John Lloyd (journalist)
John Lloyd (producer)
Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber
Gabby Logan
Kenny Logan
Sarah Lucas
Dame Vera Lynn
James May
Margaret MacMillan
Stephen Mangan
Davina McCall
Sir Ian McGeechan
Heather McGregor
Andy McNab
John Michie
David Mitchell
Lord John Monks
Lewis Moody
Michael Morpurgo
Bill Morris
David Morrissey
Philip Mould
Al Murray
Neil Stuke
Sir Paul Nurse
Andy Nyman
Peter Oborne
Sir Michael Parkinson
Fiona Phillips
Andy Puddicombe
Lord David Puttnam
Anita Rani
Esther Rantzen
Sir Steve Redgrave
Derek Redmond
Pete Reed
Lord Martin Rees
Peter Reid
Baroness Ruth Rendell
Sir Cliff Richard
Hugo Rifkind
Sir Tony Robinson
David Rowntree
Ian Rush
Greg Rutherford
CJ Sansom
June Sarpong
Simon Schama
John Sessions
Sandie Shaw
Helen Skelton
Sir Tim Smit
Dan Snow
Peter Snow
Phil Spencer
David Starkey
Lord Jock Stirrup
Neil Stuke
Sting
Tallia Storm
David Suchet
Alan Sugar
Graeme Swann
Stella Tennant
Daley Thompson
Alan Titchmarsh
James Timpson
Kevin Toolis
Lynne Truss
Gavin Turk
Roger Uttley
David Walliams
Zoë Wanamaker
Robert Webb
Richard Wentworth
Sir Alan West
Dominic West
Kevin Whateley

 

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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Former Irish premier John Bruton on Brexit: "Britain should pay for our border checks"

The former Taoiseach says Brexit has been interpreted as "a profoundly unfriendly act"

At Kapıkule, on the Turkish border with Bulgaria, the queue of lorries awaiting clearance to enter European Union territory can extend as long as 17km. Despite Turkey’s customs union for goods with the bloc, hauliers can spend up to 30 hours clearing a series of demanding administrative hoops. This is the nightmare keeping former Irish premier John Bruton up at night. Only this time, it's the post-Brexit border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and it's much, much worse.   

Bruton (pictured below), Taoiseach between 1994 and 1997, is an ardent pro-European and was historically so sympathetic to Britain that, while in office, he was pilloried as "John Unionist" by his rivals. But he believes, should she continue her push for a hard Brexit, that Theresa May's promise for a “seamless, frictionless border” is unattainable. 

"A good example of the sort of thing that might arise is what’s happening on the Turkish-Bulgarian border," the former leader of Ireland's centre-right Fine Gael party told me. “The situation would be more severe in Ireland, because the UK proposes to leave the customs union as well."

The outlook for Ireland looks grim – and a world away from the dynamism of the Celtic Tiger days Bruton’s coalition government helped usher in. “There will be all sorts of problems," he said. "Separate permits for truck drivers operating across two jurisdictions, people having to pay for the right to use foreign roads, and a whole range of other issues.” 

Last week, an anti-Brexit protest on the border in Killeen, County Louth, saw mock customs checks bring traffic to a near standstill. But, so far, the discussion around what the future looks like for the 260 border crossings has focused predominantly on its potential effects on Ulster’s fragile peace. Last week Bruton’s successor as Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, warned “any sort of physical border” would be “bad for the peace process”. 

Bruton does not disagree, and is concerned by what the UK’s withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights might mean for the Good Friday Agreement. But he believes the preoccupation with the legacy of violence has distracted British policymakers from the potentially devastating economic impact of Brexit. “I don’t believe that any serious thought was given to the wider impact on the economy of the two islands as a whole," he said. 

The collapse in the pound has already hit Irish exporters, for whom British sales are worth £15bn. Businesses that work across the border could yet face the crippling expense of duplicating their operations after the UK leaves the customs union and single market. This, he says, will “radically disturb” Ireland’s agriculture and food-processing industries – 55 per cent of whose products are sold to the UK. A transitional deal will "anaesthetise" people to the real impact, he says, but when it comes, it will be a more seismic change than many in London are expecting. He even believes it would be “logical” for the UK to cover the Irish government’s costs as it builds new infrastructure and employs new customs officials to deal with the new reality.

Despite his past support for Britain, the government's push for a hard Brexit has clearly tested Bruton's patience. “We’re attempting to unravel more than 40 years of joint work, joint rule-making, to create the largest multinational market in the world," he said. It is not just Bruton who is frustrated. The British decision to "tear that up", he said, "is regarded, particularly by people in Ireland, as a profoundly unfriendly act towards neighbours".

Nor does he think Leave campaigners, among them the former Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers, gave due attention to the issue during the campaign. “The assurances that were given were of the nature of: ‘Well, it’ll be alright on the night!’," he said. "As if the Brexit advocates were in a position to give any assurances on that point.” 

Indeed, some of the more blimpish elements of the British right believe Ireland, wedded to its low corporate tax rates and east-west trade, would sooner follow its neighbour out of the EU than endure the disruption. Recent polling shows they are likely mistaken: some 80 per cent of Irish voters say they would vote to remain in an EU referendum.

Irexit remains a fringe cause and Bruton believes, post-Brexit, Dublin will have no choice but to align itself more closely with the EU27. “The UK is walking away,” he said. “This shift has been imposed upon us by our neighbour. Ireland will have to do the best it can: any EU without Britain is a more difficult EU for Ireland.” 

May, he says, has exacerbated those difficulties. Her appointment of her ally James Brokenshire as secretary of state for Northern Ireland was interpreted as a sign she understood the role’s strategic importance. But Bruton doubts Ireland has figured much in her biggest decisions on Brexit: “I don’t think serious thought was given to this before her conference speech, which insisted on immigration controls and on no jurisdiction for the European Court of Justice. Those two decisions essentially removed the possibility for Ireland and Britain to work together as part of the EEA or customs union – and were not even necessitated by the referendum decision.”

There are several avenues for Britain if it wants to avert the “voluntary injury” it looks set to inflict to Ireland’s economy and its own. One, which Bruton concedes is unlikely, is staying in the single market. He dismisses as “fanciful” the suggestions that Northern Ireland alone could negotiate European Economic Area membership, while a poll on Irish reunification is "only marginally" more likely. 

The other is a variation on the Remoaners’ favourite - a second referendum should Britain look set to crash out on World Trade Organisation terms without a satisfactory deal. “I don’t think a second referendum is going to be accepted by anybody at this stage. It is going to take a number of years,” he said. “I would like to see the negotiation proceed and for the European Union to keep the option of UK membership on 2015 terms on the table. It would be the best available alternative to an agreed outcome.” 

As things stand, however, Bruton is unambiguous. Brexit means the Northern Irish border will change for the worse. “That’s just inherent in the decision the UK electorate was invited to take, and took – or rather, the UK government took in interpreting the referendum.”