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Scotland votes on independence
01:35 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

NEW: Queen says she hopes "emotions will be tempered" by understanding

Final results give pro-union camp 55% of the vote to 45% for independence camp

Scottish first minister, who also leads pro-independence party, to resign both posts

"We hear you," Prime Minister David Cameron says, vows to change UK for the better

CNN  — 

Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom – along with England, Wales and Northern Ireland – following a historic referendum vote.

By 55% to 45%, a majority of voters rejected the possibility of Scotland breaking away and becoming an independent nation.

Shortly afterward, Alex Salmond, the Scottish first minister and leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, announced his resignation from both posts, effective in November.

Salmond said he was proud of the campaign for independence, and that now was the time to hold the UK leadership to its promises of shifting more autonomy to Scotland.

“We now have the opportunity to hold Westminster’s feet to the fire on the ‘vow’ that they have made to devolve further meaningful power to Scotland,” he said in a statement. “This places Scotland in a very strong position.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed Scotland’s decision in a televised statement outside 10 Downing Street, saying it was a clear result.

“Like millions of other people, I am delighted,” he said.

Cameron said he would have been heartbroken to see the United Kingdom broken up – but paid tribute to the efforts of both sides in the campaign.

“We hear you,” he said to those who voted for independence, adding this was an opportunity to change the way people in the United Kingdom are governed, and “change it for the better.”

His government has delivered on devolution in the past and will deliver on it again, Cameron said.

A “new and fair settlement” will be created for Scotland and for the other countries of the United Kingdom, he said.

Salmond accepted defeat in an earlier televised statement – and urged the rest of the pro-independence camp to do the same.

He thanked Scotland “for 1.6 million votes for Scottish independence” and said the turnout – which electoral officials said was 84.6% from an electorate of more than 4.2 million – was one of the highest in the democratic world for any such vote.

Queen Elizabeth II said the outcome of the vote will be met with a range of emotions, but was hopeful “that these emotions will be tempered by an understanding of the feelings of others.”

“Now, as we move forward, we should remember that despite the range of views that have been expressed, we have in common an enduring love of Scotland, which is one of the things that helps to unite us all,” the Queen said in a statement.

Sigh of relief

The final result in the referendum was 1,617,989 votes in favor of independence from the United Kingdom to 2,001,926 against.

This means the pro-union camp won by a margin of 55.25% of the vote to 44.65% – a much wider gap than opinion polls in the final days leading up to the vote had suggested.

The result means the main political parties in Westminster – and many people across the United Kingdom and Scotland – can breathe a collective sigh of relief that the threat of a breakup of a centuries-old union is over. However, many on the “Yes” side will be bitterly disappointed.

The referendum was closely watched around the world, particularly in nations like Spain, whose Catalonia province is home to a vocal independence movement.

U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the result and praised the Scots “for their full and energetic exercise of democracy.”

“Through debate, discussion, and passionate yet peaceful deliberations, they reminded the world of Scotland’s enormous contributions to the UK and the world,” Obama said in a statement Friday morning. “We have no closer ally than the United Kingdom, and we look forward to continuing our strong and special relationship with all the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as we address the challenges facing the world today.”