The ‘No’ side will win the referendum with 55 per cent of the vote while ‘Yes’ will secure 45 per cent, according to a forecast

Scotland has voted to stay in the United Kingdom after rejecting independence in a historic referendum that challenged the 307-year union.

With 26 out of the country’s 32 council areas having declared, the “No” side has 54 per cent of the vote, with the “Yes” campaign on 46 per cent, according the BBC.

The British pound rose sharply after the Scottish independence vote indicated Scotland would remain in the UK.

Sterling was last up 0.6 percent at $1.6489 after rising as high as $1.6525, a marked turnaround from a 10-month low of $1.6051 touched just last week. Investors awaited final results, with figures so far indicating a solid win for the “No” camp.

Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party and champion of Scottish independence, conceded defeat in a speech to supporters on Friday.

But he held out the prospect of Scotland attaining independence in the future.

British Prime Minister David Cameron will emerge a weaker figure from the UK’s “near-death experience,” Financial Times commentator Gideon Rachman wrote.

“The UK has just been through a near-death experience. The final result of the referendum on Scottish independence represented a clear rejection of separation. But there was no mistaking the near panic of the British government in the last two weeks before the vote – after a poll had shown the Yes campaign in front.”

By 06:15 GMT, the “No” campaign had more than 1,397,000 votes, with “Yes” on just over 1,176,000.

A total of 1,852,828 votes is needed for victory in the referendum.

Predicting on the basis of the result declared so far, the BBC declared that the “No” side will win the referendum with 55 per cent of the vote while “Yes” will secure 45 per cent.

This margin of victory is some three points greater than that anticipated by the final opinion polls.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a no vote would be “a deep personal and political disappointment”, adding: “There is an appetite of change in Scotland, this country has changed forever.”

After votes have been tallied, the chief counting officer, Mary Pitcaithly, in Edinburgh, is set to officially declare the result followed by a statement by Queen Elizabeth II.

As the figures continued to pour in from different parts of Scotland, it emerged that Glasgow voted Yes but voters were decisively against leaving the union with Britain.

The people of Scotland queued up to vote in the historic referendum on Thursday to decide their future as part an independent country or the UK.

They had a simple “Yes” or “No” choice to the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Nearly 97 per cent of the electorate, adding up to 4,285,323 people, were registered to vote at 2,608 polling places across the country.