ALISTAIR Carmichael plans to "put the fear of God" into David Cameron and the rest of his Cabinet by warning them not to take the United Kingdom for granted and that next year's independence referendum can be lost.
The Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary will make his views clear in a presentation to Coalition colleagues in Downing Street on Tuesday.
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Mr Carmichael, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, is to suggest to colleagues that the 2011 Holyrood elections, which saw a healthy Labour polls lead turned into a Nationalist landslide, could be repeated.
He said: "I want them to understand my real concerns about the possibility of a Yes vote and that they are genuine fears; they are not synthetic or manufactured. I see this as a race that can still be lost."
Despite public declarations that there is no complacency in Whitehall, senior Coalition figures have been boasting that the referendum on September 18, 2014, has already been won and it is now just a matter of how low the Yes vote will be.
Such talk is anathema to Mr Carmichael, who said he was worried people across all walks of life believed, on the back of continual poll leads for the No campaign, that the referendum was a done deal when it clearly was not.
He said: "It's still a live debate and still quite possible that opinions can change. With the enormous resources the SNP have to deploy next year, they could still win this.
"One of the messages I will give to Cabinet next week is that this is a debate that has a long way to run and anything is possible at the end of it. Nobody should take the United Kingdom for granted."
One Coalition insider added: "The Secretary of State will try to put the fear of God into the Cabinet and dispel the notion it's in the bag. It's not."
Mr Carmichael also referred to the need to make an "emotional connection to being British" and said feelings would run very high as polling day neared next September.
During the Commonwealth Games in the summer the Nationalists would seek to engender a sense of Scottishness, but Mr Carmichael referred to Scots' sense of Britishness, displayed during last year's Olympics.
"Imagine if you did not have a stake in that. Yes, it was a great spectacle but it was something you had no connection to. It would be like watching Usain Bolt win the 100 metres. Yes, it was a great sporting achievement but did you stand and cheer Usain Bolt in the same way you felt for Mo Farah coming down the home straight?
"Remember how you felt when Andy Murray won Wimbledon and the US Open. When he won the US Open, that was a great achievement for a Scot, who had just won a Grand Slam tennis championship. But the real moment was when he won Wimbledon because he was winning the home championship. If Wimbledon is something that happens in a foreign country, will you feel the same connection?"
Mr Carmichael raised another fear when he mentioned a businessman he met this week in Inverness, who set out his concerns about independence but then said he was going to vote Yes anyway.
The Scottish Secretary said he summed up the man's position thus: he would vote for independence in the belief that it would not happen.
This, he argued, presented a "huge danger" for the No camp and warned: "Don't leave it to somebody else to save the UK, they might be leaving it to you."
Meantime, Mr Carmichael urged Alex Salmond not to fudge the White Paper on independence, saying that on three key areas in particular - the currency, pensions and the costs of separation - the First Minister had to show "candour" and "honesty".
He insisted an uncosted menu of options "would not be good enough because for as long as this debate has been running every time you ask a question you are always told - the answer will be in the White Paper".