Polls Show Majority For Scottish Independence 'Because Of Brexit'

Sir John Curtice warns Boris Johnson that "the pursuit of Brexit is indeed costing you support in Scotland".

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Brexit is the main driver of increasing support for Scottish independence, a renowned polling expert said after a series of surveys showed majority support for breaking up the UK.

Sir John Curtice said that in three recent polls showing support for independence rising to 50% or above in Scotland, the tipping point was reached entirely by Remainers who used to back the union switching sides.

A Panelbase poll for the National newspaper on Wednesday found support for independence at 52%.

It was the third such survey in days and came hours after Survation published results of an online survey taken between January 20 and 22 where the response was split 50-50 between “yes” and “no”.

Another recent poll, conducted by YouGov between January 22 and 27, had a 51-49 split in favour of a “yes” vote – the first time it had gone ahead in the firm’s polling since 2015.

Curtice said that immediately after the Brexit vote in 2016, anti-independence Remainers switched to backing “yes”, while Brexiteer “yes” voters switched to “no” – showing that “Brexit is as disruptive of nationalism in Scotland as it is every other movement in this country”.

This meant there was little overall change in support for independence until last year.

At a briefing organised by the UK In A Changing Europe think-tank, Strathclyde university professor Curtice said: “Then, in 2019, support is higher, and where does the increase come? It comes wholly and entirely amongst those who voted Remain.

“So it was already therefore difficult to avoid the conclusion that the pursuit of Brexit was indeed, at the margin, undermining support for the union.

“But, given we’re starting from 55-45, ‘at the margin’ is potentially crucial.”

He added: “The YouGov poll and the Survation poll that came out yesterday again confirm that the increase in support is amongst Remain voters.

“So the message has to be towards Brexit-inclined unionists: you might like it to be true that the UK should leave whole and entire but the world is not necessarily shaped in the way that you would like it to be, and that in practice – at the moment at least – the pursuit of Brexit is indeed costing you support in Scotland.”

The polls also showed that the prospect of the SNP winning in a majority in the Scottish parliament was now “potentially on the table” and could make the case for a second independence vote stronger.

However, the data shows “it’s still very clear” that nationalists must convince people of the economic benefits of independence, and that the SNP was lacking answers on what happens to the border with the rest of the UK and currency, Curtice said.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has rejected Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s call for Holyrood to be given the power to hold another vote on Scottish independence.

The SNP leader is refusing to give up and insists there is now a “democratic case” for a second ballot to be held on the issue, despite her predecessor Alex Salmond promising that the 2014 vote, which delivered a 55-45 result in support of the union, was “once in a generation”.


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