Nicola Sturgeon blasted for endless quest for independence
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A new poll from Savanta ComRes found Scots would narrowly vote to reject independence in a second referendum, with just 51 percent opting to remain a part of the UK. Scots wanting to leave the UK stood at 49 percent when undecideds were excluded.
It also revealed that just a third of Scots actually want an independence referendum to take place in the next two years.
However, the most striking result of the poll was the level of polarisation in views among Scots concerning independence.
The February 2022 survey found that, on a scale of certainty about their views, 73 percent of unionists counted themselves absolutely certain in their intention to remain.
Meanwhile, 63 percent of nationalists were ardent in their desire to leave.
Just ten percent of respondents put their level of certainty at six or lower, out of ten.
This suggests that both sides of the political debate have reached a stalemate among voters, with a vast majority unlikely to change their minds, compared with a small number who were unsure.
One Scottish Tory poured cold water on the SNP’s plans, telling the Economist: “If Boris and Brexit can’t deliver the numbers, nothing will.”
Scotland voted to stay in the United Kingdom in 2014, with 55 percent voting to remain against 45 percent who voted to leave.
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In the years since, that gap has narrowed in the polls, stoking nationalist intentions to hold another vote.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said that she intends to hold a second independence vote next year.
However, Boris Johnson has previously rebuffed calls for a second vote, citing the “once in a generation” claim made during the 2014 referendum.
Support for independence waned between 2016 and 2019, according to data collated by the Institute for Government, before rising again during the coronavirus pandemic.
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The ‘yes’ vote dropped below 50 percent again in March 2021, and has remained just below a majority view since.
In the whole of the UK, as of October last year, the number of people who were in favour of Scottish independence sat around 27 percent, YouGov polling suggested.
Recent national upheavals have also appeared not to have had a major effect on independence sentiments.
Robert Johns, a politics professor at the University of Essex, recently wrote in Political Quarterly that the impact of Brexit on the independence vote has been “limited”.
This is despite beliefs that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU – membership of which featured heavily in campaigning in 2014 – may tip the balance in favour of independence.
Scotland was one region of the UK which voted to remain part of the EU in 2016, and Ms Sturgeon has vowed to apply for membership should Scotland become independent.
Professor Johns said that the Covid pandemic had also had a “barely discernible” effect on independence sentiments.
He noted that it was thus “hard to conceive of an external shock that could appreciably shift opinion”.
Professor Johns added: “The entrenchment and polarisation over independence means that [the Scottish parliamentary election of 2021] was never likely to break the constitutional deadlock—and it did not surprise.”
Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, has indicated that the Government would not consider allowing another referendum unless polling suggested a ‘yes’ vote of 60 percent or higher and was sustained for a year.
He added: “The SNP would only have to win once if we just keep asking the question.”
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