Scotland has rejected independence. Here's what happens next

The result

The future of the United Kingdom is secure. Scotland has rejected independence. Despite a major victory for the nationalists with Glasgow, the UK's third biggest city voting to leave Britain, the margin of victory was not large enough to give Alex Salmond and his campaign the momentum they need.

There were also wins for Yes in three of Scotland's 32 local authority areas - Dundee, West Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire. But nationalists conceded defeat in Alex Salmond's Aberdeenshire constituency.

1,617,989 (45 per cent) voted Yes

2,001,926 (55 per cent) voted No

How have the key figures responded?

In an address outside Downing Street, David Cameron said he was "delighted" by the "clear" result, adding: "Now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together and to move forward."

He said it was vital to have asked yes or no on the ballot paper so there could be no question of the results. "We now have a chance, a great opportunity to change the way the British people are governed and change it for the better". Mr Cameron also announced that Lord Smith will oversee the process to implement new devolution commitments while English people should be able to vote for their own laws, to get a "decisive answer" to the Westlothian question.

Alex Salmond said he accepted defeat, but hinted that it was not over for the nationalist cause. Speaking in Edinburgh, he said: "Scotland has, by a majority, decided not at this stage decided to become an independent country." He also said the turnout was one of the highest in history and was a "triumph for the democratic process" and called for more powers to be given to Scotland in "rapid course". "We go forward as one nation", he said.

Alistair Darling, who headed up the Yes campaign, said: "I want to say thanks from the bottom of my heart... We've taken on the argument and we've won."

The SNP's Nicola Sturgeon said that the campaign had showed the need for change in Scotland, telling the BBC: "I think the country has been changed forever by this result." She said she felt "deeply personally disappointed."

What happens next

The Queen is expected to issue a written statement this afternoon regardless of the outcome of the referendum. The statement would be an unprecedented move for the monarch, who usually remains strictly neutral on constitutional matters. Last Sunday, she hinted at her support for a No vote to maintain the Union, telling a churchgoer she hoped people would “think carefully” before they voted.

Politically, the next stage will be on talks on further devolution in England and Scotland.

How many people turned out?

Around 85 per cent of Scots took part in the referendum, setting new records for turnout, with some areas reporting that virtually every member of the electorate had voted.

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