But majority oppose a referendum before Brexit
Support for Scottish independence has markedly increased since the Prime Minister gave her Brexit speech.
That’s the headline from a new poll out today by BMG for the Herald newspaper.
It finds that when ‘don’t knows’ are removed, 49 per cent of those questioned supported independence compared to 51 per cent who opposed it.
A survey published last month found that 45.5 per cent favoured of independence with 54.5 per cent against it.
Despite the growth in support, just 44 per cent of Scots support a second referendum before Brexit happens, compared to 56 per cent who would oppose one.
Dr Michael Turner, research director at BMG, argued that the findings painted a mixed picture, ‘with Brexit undoubtedly having an effect on support for the principle of independence’.
He went on to say:
“However, although the results do show a clear rise in support since May’s speech, which suggested that the UK may go for a harder form of Brexit than first thought, they also suggest a majority of Scots may not have the appetite for another referendum before the Brexit negotiations are concluded.
Although these results suggest that opposition to independence is by no means an insurmountable task for Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP, they do imply that she is a fair way off from her ‘red-lines’ of clear and consistent support.”
Assessing what the poll means, the Herald’s editorial today said it’s food for thought for the Prime Minister, and that there is ‘little doubt’ the results are good news for Nicola Sturgeon. It continues:
“Mrs May would be foolish to ignore this poll. She has promised on a number of occasions to deliver a Brexit that ‘works for the whole of the UK’, but we are yet to see any real evidence of this approach.
A willingness to consider compromise for Scotland on issues such as immigration and trade would be a good start.
If she does not, the willingness of her government to simply ride roughshod over the will of the Scottish people risks breaking up the UK.
Ms Sturgeon has been telling the Prime Minister this for months – perhaps this latest Herald poll will encourage Mrs May to take the matter more seriously.”
The poll findings come as the Scottish Parliament yesterday voted on a symbolic motion to oppose the triggering of Article 50. The debate saw the SNP, Scottish Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green united in their opposition to the UK government triggering the process of Brexit.
Just three Labour MSPs voted alongside the Conservatives to supporting the Article 50 being invoked.
In its leader column today, reflecting on the vote at Holyrood, the Scotsman concurs with the analysis in the Herald. It today concludes:
“The focus will now turn back to the UK government and, in particular, Prime Minister Theresa May. She has no obligation to pay heed to yesterday’s developments, and nor is she likely to, but such a course of action remains a constitutional gamble.
If Ms May rejects – or worse still, ignores – the result of the Holyrood vote, it will strengthen the cause of those determined to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Should such a scenario arise, Holyrood’s vote will not merely be symbolic – it will determine the future make-up of Britain outside of the EU. Despite what her ministers might say, even Ms May knows she could not ignore that.”
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot ForwardLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.