Nicola Sturgeon questioned by Marr on whether she will resign
And three new polls published since the start of the year have indicated a dip in support for Scotland breaking away, he pointed out. With Scotland’s first minister pushing hard for a second referendum, and pledging to call an advisory one if her party is successful in May’s Holyrood elections, the issue of Scottish independence is high on the agenda.
They do not suggest that the UK’s exit from the EU single market resulted in any further increase in support for independence
Sir John Curtice
However, despite her outspoken criticism of the UK’s decision to quit the EU, Sir John, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, suggested it might not be quite the decisive factor she was counting on.
The trio of surveys held early this year – by Panelbase, Survation and Savanta – feature similar samples of 1,059, 1,050 and 1,029 respectively.
Sir John said: “However, they do not suggest that the UK’s exit from the EU single market resulted in any further increase in support for independence.
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“Indeed, at 53 percent, the average level of support for Yes was slightly down on the 55 percent recorded by the same three polls at the back end of last year.”
Nevertheless, he stopped short of saying the issue was not colouring the thinking of voters north of the border.
He said: “The three polls show how Brexit continues to influence people’s views on independence.
“On average, only 39 percent of those who voted Leave in 2016 say they would vote Yes, compared with 59 percent of those who backed Remain.”
Given that Scots voted four years ago by 62 per to 38 percent in favour of remaining in the EU and they, according to Panelbase, would back rejoining by a similar margin, the UK government’s Brexit policy was helpful when it came to trying to persuade Scots of the benefits of sticking with the Union, Sir John said.
Meanwhile, Sir John, who was writing for the BBC’s website, suggested the coronavirus pandemic probably was a factor in reinforcing support for independence.
He said: “The same Panelbase poll, conducted for the Sunday Times, also confirms previous polling evidence that more voters believe that an independent Scotland would have handled the pandemic better (42 percent) than reckon it would have been handled worse (23 percent).
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“Crucially, one in five (20 percent) of those who voted No to independence in 2014 believe it would have been better.
“This perception helps explain why support for independence is now three points above the 50 percent level at which it stood immediately prior to the first lockdown last March.
“However, Panelbase’s poll suggests that while 41 percent of Scots would be upset if Scotland left the Union, rather more, 48 percent, would be pleased.
“As many as one in three (33 percent) say they feel Scottish but not British.”
Sir John also predicted there were also further divisive referendums in the pipeline.
He explained: “Some commentators have expressed the hope that, divisive as it was, the 2016 Brexit referendum would be the last such ballot to be held in the UK.
“However, it seems that referendums are still regarded as an attractive way forward by those who wish to see constitutional change in Britain.”
Speaking on Sunday, Ms Sturgeon she was hoping a strong performance by her Scottish National Party (SNP) in an election in May would give her the mandate to hold a second referendum.
She told Andrew Marr: “I want to have a legal referendum, that’s what I’m going to seek the authority of the Scottish people for in May and if they give me that authority that’s what I intend to do,”
Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross said a “wildcat referendum” would “not be enforceable” and vowed to have no part in it.
He told the Centre for Policy Studies think tank: Speaking to the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, he added: “I would absolutely boycott that.
“We were told the 2014 referendum was a gold standard of referendums, Nicola Sturgeon accepted that.”
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