Poll: Two thirds of Scots would allow free movement for free trade with the EU

NatCen poll finds Scots agrees with Brits on Brexit deal


A majority of Scots might have voted Remain, but what they want out of a Brexit deal is not so different from people across the UK.

A study by NatCen Social Research of 859 Scots between February 5 and March 2 and a Britain-wide poll of 2,322 people found a number of shared expectations on trade and immigration.

The results, published today after Prime Minister Theresa May’s triggering Article 50 on Wednesday, could challenge the notion Brexit makes Scots voting for independence more likely, according to the survey’s author, Professor John Curtice.

The study found:

  • Ninety-three per cent of Scots are in favour of maintaining free trade with the EU after Brexit, against 88 per cent across Britain.
  • Sixty-five per cent of Scots think EU migrants should be treated the same as non-EU migrants, slightly lower than 68 per cent across Britain.
  • Sixty-two per cent of Scots want trade and immigration rules post-Brexit to be the same in Scotland as they are across the UK.
  • Sixty-one per cent of Scots said the UK should ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ keep free movement of people as the price of free trade with the EU, against 54 per cent across Britain.

Prof Curtice said:

“Much of the debate about Brexit in Scotland has assumed that voters north of the border want a much softer Brexit than voters in the rest of the UK. Indeed, the Scottish government’s demand for a second independence referendum rests on such an assumption.

However, this first systematic study of attitudes towards Brexit in Scotland shows that for the most part voters on both sides of the border want much the same outcome – free trade, immigration control and retention of much of the consumer and environmental regulation currently afforded by the EU.

This means that on immigration in particular, voters in Scotland seem to be more in tune with the stance taken by the UK government than that adopted by the Scottish government.”

This interpretation was welcomed by the Scottish Conservatives. Constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said:

“This report dismisses the myth that Scots think differently from any other part of the United Kingdom when it comes to the Brexit negotiations. […]

Polls have consistently shown that there is no appetite for a second referendum, but these figures prove that there is also no demand for a differentiated deal for Scotland either.”

But the Scottish National Party said the results were in line with Scottish government policy to stay in the single market.

SNP MSP Richard Lochhead said:

“People in Scotland overwhelmingly, by a 24-point margin, voted to Remain in the EU – but in even greater numbers Scots want to retain the benefits of single market membership that Theresa May is determined to abandon.

The option of single market membership was unilaterally taken off the table by Theresa May, which is exactly why the public do not believe the Prime Minister is acting in Scotland’s interests.

Indeed, even though 93 per cent of people in Scotland want unrestricted free trade with the single market, Boris Johnson has said that leaving without a trade deal and reverting to hefty [World Trade Organisation] tariffs would be ‘perfectly OK’.”

He added:

“With the UK Government completely unwilling to represent Scotland’s interests, it’s essential that people in Scotland are given the choice of a different future.”

See: Poll: Theresa May’s Brexit uplift is shared by half the public – disappointment won’t be pretty

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