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Scottish Independence - A Quarter Of The English Support It, Says Poll

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Increasing numbers of English people want rid of their Scottish partners
Increasing numbers of English people want rid of their Scottish partners

Just over a quarter of people in England support Scottish Independence, a new survey has found.

In what would be welcome news for Scottish nationalists, the latest NatCen Social Research British Social Attitudes Survey found 26% of English residents favoured ending the union between the two countries - the highest figure yet in such a survey.

The study suggested there were some signs of increased frustration about Scotland's position in the union, with 31% of people in England saying they "strongly agreed" that Scottish MPs should not be able to vote on English laws - up from just 18% 10 years ago.

The increased frustration with Scottish MPs' ability to vote on English laws underlines the serious need to tackle the "West Lothian Question". The government has set up a commission in order to consider this problem. Labour have warned that the inquiry "risks creating second-class MPs".

The number of English people who feel Scotland gets more than its fair share of public spending has also been on the rise, with 44% now feeling this is the case, compared with 21% in 2000. This shows the increasing level of debate over the "Barnett formula", which critics suggest gives a disproportionate amount of money to Scotland.

However, the number of people in England who believe this is only slightly higher now than in 2008, when the total was 41%.

Those living south of the border are fairly evenly divided between those who regard themselves as primarily British (43%) as those who said they are mainly English (42%).

And those who describe themselves as being English are only slightly more likely to believe Scotland gets a disproportionately high amount of public cash than those who class themselves as English. Exactly half of those who say they are English feel this way, compared to 44% of those who regard themselves as British.

Meanwhile more than half of people - 56% - believe England should continue to be governed by the UK Parliament, rather than by an English parliament or regional assemblies.

Rachel Ormston, a research director at NatCen Social Research and the author of today's report, said: "Although public opinion in England has been affected by debates about devolution in the UK, this does not appear so far to have translated into either a majority demand for a change to the way England is governed or to a widespread call for Scotland to leave the union.

"Leaving England out of the devolution settlement may create difficulties that need to be addressed - particularly funding and the West Lothian question - but it may still be the best way of reflecting and respecting public opinion across the UK."

A total of 3,311 people were questioned between June and October last year for the research.

The results are part of the 29th British Social Attitudes report, which is published in full in September.

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