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U.K. Cabinet to Meet in Scotland Amid Independence Debate

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet will hold its first meeting in Scotland early next week, a spokeswoman for the premier said, as he campaigns against Scottish independence in a fall referendum.

The campaign against independence has picked up this month with U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne ruling out a currency union should Scots choose to go it alone. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso raised the specter of Scotland being denied swift entry into the European Union. Scots vote on whether to break the 307-year union with the U.K. on Sept. 18.

A poll published today showed an increase in support for independence ground to a halt this month with backing for a breakaway unchanged at 29 percent after rising for three straight months. The proportion of voters wanting to keep the status quo stayed at 42 percent, the TNS survey found. The poll was conducted Jan. 28 to Feb. 6, before Osborne’s and Barroso’s interventions.

Cameron used a speech in London on Feb. 7 to call on English, Welsh and Northern Irish people to campaign against Scottish independence, saying the U.K.’s reputation in the world relies on its united “brand.”

The speech was a rare intervention by the premier in the debate on Scotland as his Conservative Party’s unpopularity north of the border has led Cameron to rein in his involvement in the campaign while nationalists use his government as an argument for independence. He’s refused calls for a televised debate on the issue with Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, who’s leading the pro-independence campaign.

Osborne’s comments in a speech in Edinburgh last week that Scotland must relinquish the pound if voters back independence prompted Salmond’s Scottish National Party to accuse Cameron and Osborne of “bullying.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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