Celebrities from South Yorkshire are among more than 200 famous faces backing calls for Scotland to remain in the UK.
Boxing trainer Brendan Ingle, Cudworth-born broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson, Hope-born actor Dominic West and Lord Robert Winston, chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, have all signed the open letter urging Scotland to vote No in the forthcoming referendum on whether the country should leave the UK.
Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Bruce Forsyth, Dame Judi Dench, Simon Cowell and Professor Stephen Hawking are also among the famous names to sign an open letter ahead of the vote on Scottish independence.
It says: “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 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.”
Mr Ingle, of Wincobank, Sheffield, said: “We’ve been through the First World War together, the Second World War together and now more than ever we need to stick together – united we stand, divided we fall.
“I’ve been all over the world with boxing and believe me when I say, this is the place to be – the United Kingdom is the place to be.
“My honest opinion is Scotland should think long and hard about it; the welfare system and politics here are second to none.”
The letter was organised by TV historians Tom Holland and Dan Snow ahead of the poll on Thursday, September 18.
The list of 215 names, which includes Oscar and Grammy winners, Olympic medallists and a Nobel prize recipient, represents ‘the best of British talent and intellect’ according to the Let’s Stay Together campaign.
Snow said: “I feel passionately about Britain and everything we’ve achieved together throughout our long, shared history across these islands.
“I don’t have a vote in the Scottish referendum but I certainly have a view and I really hope that our shared country stays together.
“That’s why Tom and I have brought together a list of people who represent the best of British and share that view.
“However, more than the celebrities, this is the view of the majority of people in the rest of the UK.”
Lord Alan Sugar, who has signed the letter, said: “It’s for Scotland to decide how to vote, but it has consequences for all of us. That’s why so many of us have come together to say: let’s stay together. We’ve achieved so much together and I know we can achieve so much more.”
Members of the public will be encouraged to add their name to the letter when it goes on tour across the country.
The open letter was presented near Tower Bridge in central London today as historians Snow and Holland were joined by TV presenters Ben Fogle and June Sarpong.
Among the famous names to have signed the letter are Olympic stars Sir Ben Ainslie, Tom Daley and Sir Steve Redgrave, broadcaster Sir David Attenborough and Hollywood stars Helena Bonham-Carter, Sir Patrick Stewart and Michael Douglas.
Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sting and Sir Cliff Richard are also on the list, along with comedians David Walliams, Steve Coogan, Ronnie Corbett and Eddie Izzard.
Speaking near Tower Bridge, Snow said all of the celebrities who have signed the letter are unable to vote in the referendum.
He said: “You’ve got Sir Mick Jagger, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Steve Redgrave, Simon Cowell, David Walliams, Dame Vera Lynn – these people have found out about it and got in touch with us.
“People are keen to sign and they’re from every political background, they’re from every social background, because down here in the rest of the UK we feel strongly that we hope they stay.
“However, we don’t want to bully them, we’re not telling them how to vote, we just hope they stay.”
Famous Scottish people who have signed the letter include Corbett, former rugby star Kenny Logan, actress Louise Linton and TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher.
Snow said: “It’s not about nationality, it’s about people who live on this island and we’re just saying we hope you stay.
“We haven’t got a vote, all of the people on this don’t have a vote, but we want to tell them how we feel.
“This is the biggest potential change to our country in generations and it will have an effect for generations to come. We don’t have a vote, which is totally fine. But we have a right to say we hope we stay together.”
Fogle said: “The reason I wanted to sign this letter is I’m not allowed a vote, but I’m allowed an opinion. That’s part of living in a democracy.
“It’s not about swaying votes or trying to change opinion. All we want is to let everyone up in Scotland know how we feel.
“I genuinely feel we are better together.”
A spokesman for the 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.
“We’re sure that everyone who genuinely has Scotland’s interests at heart will be delighted in future years to see a fairer and more prosperous Scotland emerge using the great opportunities of independence to grow our economy and make an even bigger contribution on the global stage.”
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