EDINBURGH, Scotland, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- While Scotland residents decide whether to remain in the United Kingdom or choose independence, the rest of the country narrowly wants them to remain.
Respondents to a poll of 5,000 respondents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland -- the non-Scottish parts of the U.K. -- indicated 53 percent preferred that Scotland does not become an independent country. Only 21 percent favored Scotland's departure from the United Kingdom, according to The One Poll for Good Morning Britain. The survey was conducted Sept. 3 to Sept. 12.
Scottish voters will decide Thursday whether to break away or remain part of the U.K., as it has since 1707. Conflicting surveys indicate the referendum Thursday will be close, but most are in agreement the "Yes" side, favoring independence, has gathered momentum in the final weeks.
Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party and a proponent of independence, has called the referendum a "once in a lifetime opportunity for Scotland," and said at a rally in Edinburgh a "Yes" vote could allow Scotland to "design an economic and jobs policy for our needs to build a more resilient economy for the future."
Businesses and business leaders have been split on whether independence would serve Scotland economically, but a joint statement by business leaders, noting Scotland's ample oil reserves, said:
"Scotland has always had the wealth, the talent and the resources. We are among the 20 wealthiest countries in the world. But during the last few weeks we've seen something new - a flourishing of national self-confidence. This gives us the strongest of foundations for a newly independent country. Downing Street (the British government) has been orchestrating a relentless storm of scare stories. But while the 'No' campaign talks down Scotland we are determined to focus on opportunity."
British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to visit Scotland later Monday to present arguments to keep the country together.