Nicola Sturgeon rattled over Scottish independence support
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The Scottish First Minister was dealt a major blow over the weekend after a new opinion poll suggested voters north of the border opposed her plan to hold a referendum on independence in 2023. The Survation survey, which included interviews with 1,050 participants across Scotland between April 19 and May 3, found just 29 percent of voters support Ms Sturgeon’s independence plan. However, 60 percent of respondents said they were against holding a referendum before the end of next year and 11 percent claimed they did not know.
Independence also lagged behind as a pressing issue for Scottish voters.
Just one-in-ten respondents pointed to the constitutional matter as the most important issue for the Scottish Government to prioritise.
The figure rises to just 22 percent among SNP supporters.
The NHS came out on top after 61 respondents pointed to the UK’s healthcare system.
The economy and jobs came in a distant second at 48 percent.
But COVID-19, education, housing, climate change, welfare, social care, support for older people, childcare and policing were all considered more pressing issues to voters than independence.
The opinion poll, commissioned by the pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union, also suggested Scots would vote to remain a part of Britain by a larger margin than they had in the 2014 referendum.
Scots had voted by 55 percent to 45 percent to stay in the UK, in a vote the ex-First Minister Alex Salmond said was a “once in a generation opportunity”.
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But the recent poll suggested 58 percent of Scots would now vote to remain in the 315-year-old union, including 28 percent who backed independence in 2014.
In response to the survey, Scotland in Union chief executive Pamela Nash said: “Whatever SNP politicians claim about the council election results, it is clear that the people of Scotland do not support their timetable for a divisive second referendum next year.
“Voters want the government to prioritise what really matters to them – not the SNP’s obsession with constitutional division.
“And once again, this poll has confirmed that a significant majority of people in Scotland want to remain part of the UK.
“Scotland’s best days are ahead of us as part of the UK, ensuring we can bring communities together and use the strength of our shared economy to invest more in the NHS, schools and local services.”
However, an SNP MP has claimed he has “full confidence” that the Scottish Government will push ahead with its move to hold yet another independence referendum.
Richard Thomson, who defeated ex-Junior Minister Colin Clark to win the seat of Gordon in 2019, said before the poll was published: “Everybody knows there is a referendum in the works, it’s priced in.
“Most people understand quite well why we haven’t been able to hold a referendum yet, because there was no clarity over Brexit and therefore there was no basis to say what an independent Scotland’s relationship would be with the rest of the UK.
“I am confident the legislation will be laid in order to allow for a referendum in 2023.
“I have full confidence in the Scottish Government that it will deliver on that.”
An SNP spokesman added: “The people of Scotland delivered a cast-iron
democratic mandate for an independence referendum in last year’s Holyrood election when they returned the SNP with the biggest share of the vote of any party in the history of devolution and elected a record number of pro-independence MSPs.
“Just this week, support for the SNP was reinforced by our best ever local election result.”
However, while Ms Sturgeon said the local election results in Scotland and Northern Ireland raised “big fundamental questions” about the state of the Union, May 5 was not about IndyRef2.
The First Minister said: “This election was a local council election, I didn’t go into it arguing that it was all about independence, so I’m not going to come out of it and argue that somehow retrospectively it was all about independence.
“People in any election will vote for a whole variety of reasons.
“In this election, I think they were voting principally because they want more action on the cost of living crisis and they want to see the Westminster government step up, so it was a strong message on that.
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“The SNP vote share went up, obviously the leading pro-independence party, and after the SNP the next big winners were the Greens – (another) pro-independence party.
“So I think that’s significant and we take a lot of heart from it.”
The SNP made 22 gains as they took control of Dundee City Council.
Labour replaced the Scottish Conservatives as the leading unionist party after Douglas Ross’ party suffered 63 net losses.
Anas Sarwar, who recently said Boris Johnson was “a gift to the failing SNP”, added 20 councillors to Labour’s tally as the party won control of West Dunbartonshire and pushed Ms Sturgeon’s nationalists close in Glasgow.
The pro-UK Liberal Democrats made 20 gains and the SNP’s independence-backing coalition partners, the Greens, added 16 councillors across Scotland.
Despite the SNP and Greens making gains, when excluding independent candidates, just 45 percent of voters supported pro-Scexit parties on May 5.
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