Over 75% of the funding so far for the campaign backing a Yes vote in September’s independence referendum in Scotland has come from the Weir family, recent EuroMillions winners, who won £160 million (€196 million) by playing Europe’s most popular lottery.
Colin and Chris Weir, who are long-time followers of the Scottish National Party, have donated £2.5 million to the “Yes, Scotland” campaign since April last year, on top of the £1 million that it offered to the organisation in the previous 12 months.
With the help of the Weirs, “Yes, Scotland” has raised just under £5 million, compared to the almost £2.8 million which was declared by the pro-union “Better Together” in its most recent filings last December.
Responding to criticism of their actions, the Weirs sensed the need last week to issue with a public statement denying that they been recently put under pressure by the SNP to put some of their own wealth behind the pro-independence campaign. “As lifelong supporters of independence, it would be strange if we did not support the Yes Scotland campaign, ” these people wrote in a letter published in a Scottish newspaper, “Nobody bullied or targeted us.”
EuroMillions Winners Typically Receive Many ‘Requests’
One of the first requests they received after they were identified as the biggest winners yet of the Euromillions came from Scottish first minister and Scottish National Party innovator Alex Salmond. Interestingly, “Yes, Scotland”, which claims a strong grassroots presence has had less individual donations: 11, 000 people, not including the Weirs, have given £473, 000, compared with 17, 000 who have given £341, 600 to “Better Collectively ”.
Meanwhile, Mr Salmond has said that he wants to create a team drawn from across all of Scottish lifetime to bargain the details of the separation from the United Kingdom, if Scots vote to get independence.
In reply, the Labour movement which opposes independence (though there are some within the party who also do not ), has invited the SNP – which has majority control in the parliament in Edinburgh – to work together to improve devolution if voters opt to stay in the partnership. The declarations were made to mark the 15th anniversary of the reopening of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh after a 300-year gap – one of the central occasions of Tony Blair’s time in office.
Urging opponents to become part of “Team Scotland” if voters say Yes, Mr Salmond promised a non-partisan a regular membership, illustrating “the wish of those of us on the Yes part to move forward in a consensual way once the people have spoken”.