Support among Scots for independence is marginally higher than it was almost two years ago when the country rejected leaving the UK in a closer-than-expected vote.
Just over half (53 per cent) of Scots favour staying in the United Kingdom, with 47 per cent backing independence, a new poll by Kantar TNS has found. That compares to 55 per cent who backed the UK in the 2014 referendum and 45 per cent who voted Yes, as the two-year anniversary approaches on Sunday.
Conservative leader Ruth Davidson yesterday unveiled plans for a taskforce aimed at thwarting Nicola Sturgeon’s renewed independence drive which was launched this month. Ms Davidson’s expert group, which includes a former UK ambassador to several European countries, will seek to find the opportunities for Scotland outside the EU – but as part of the UK.
Ms Sturgeon has said a second independence referendum is now “highly likely” after the Brexit result, but Tom Costley, of Kantar TNS In Scotland, said the poll findings may be a disappointment.
“In the aftermath of the Brexit vote and Scotland’s contrasting position with much of the rest of Britain, the SNP would have hoped for more of an uplift in support for Scottish independence,” he said.
A total of 1,047 adults were questioned for the poll, with interviews carried out between 10 August and 4 September.
Ms Davidson said in a keynote speech in London yesterday that the First Minister has used the outcome of the EU referendum to re-ignite the campaign for Scottish independence as she set out plans for an expert group to tackle the issue.
Gavin Hewitt, the former chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association and, prior to that, the UK’s ambassador to Belgium, Finland and Croatia, is on the group, along with Sir Iain McMillan, the former head of CBI Scotland. “I will ask them to report to me on how best they believe Brexit can deliver for Scotland and – crucially – for the entire United Kingdom,” Ms Davidson said. “We believe that Scotland’s interests are not served by constantly trying to pick apart the United Kingdom. “We believe that Scotland’s best interests are served by ensuring the strength and durability of the entire United Kingdom of which we are a key part.”
A spokesman for Ms Sturgeon accused the Tory leader of a “sell-out” after previous claims Brexit would damage jobs and the economy.