CELEBRITY chef Nick Nairn has snubbed an invitation to celebrate St Andrew’s Day with David Cameron – saying he will not be “manipulated” into supporting the union.
Nairn received an invite to the glitzy Downing Street event on November 28, which is expected to be attended by Sir Chris Hoy, Andy Murray, and other Scottish stars.
But Nairn has turned down the offer flat, saying there is a “whiff of cynicism” around the Prime Minister’s attempts to gain Scottish support in the run up to the referendum next year.
Nairn – who describes himself as a “stubborn Scot” – said the invite had backfired, turning him from a solid “No” voter to a “don’t know”.
Nairn is the second high-profile Scot known to have turned down St Andrew’s Day at Number 10.
Comedian Kevin Bridges tweeted last month in relation to his invitation: “ Got this through the door today, my heart is saying ‘f*** that’ and my head is saying ‘Aye, f*** that’.”
Stirlingshire-born Nairn, who cooked for the Queen at her 80th birthday celebrations at Mansion House in London, said: “When I first got the invitation I thought, ‘That’s nice, it will be a good evening and I ought to go’.
“But it sat on my desk for a couple of weeks and I got thinking, ‘Is this just a cynical ploy by a government conducting a hearts and minds campaign?’.”
The 54-year-old added: “There is a whiff of cynicism about it and I resent being manipulated. I am a stubborn Scot after all.”
Nairn says after spending a lot of time in Aberdeen, where his new restaurant Native opened this week, he has realised what a “powerhouse” the Scottish economy is.
He said: “Being in Aberdeen and witnessing this powerhouse economy has been absolutely extraordinary.
“It got me thinking about whether the economy of Scotland could be the same, but there are still many questions to be answered on this.”
He said he had now moved from a “definitely not to a don’t know” vote but is still a “long way from being a yes, I remain to be convinced.”
A Downing Street spokesman said: “We have invited people from sport, arts, culture and business – it is up to invitees whether they attend or not.”
A spokesman for the Yes Campaign said: “Nick Nairn is on a journey that will be recognisable to many people.
“They move away from no to a position where they are open to debate and keen to hear more about the benefits of independence.”
Mr Nairn, who is a former Michelin starred-chef, said he will now hold his own St Andrew’s Day event at Native.
Lavish Scots delicacies such as haggis, pork belly and Orkney scallops will all be served on the menu.
Nairn opened his first restaurant , Braeval near Aberfoyle, in 1986 but later sold it to concentrate on his cookery school at Lake of Menteith.
In 2012 he opened a second cook school in Aberdeen.