English tell Scots to go for independence
ALMOST two-thirds of English voters want full independence for Scotland, a dramatic new poll revealed last night.
A clear majority on both sides of the Border are in favour of Scotland breaking away from the United Kingdom, according to the survey by ICM. It finds that 59% of English voters want Scotland to go it alone, while independence is backed by 52% of Scots.
There is also strong support in both nations for England breaking away completely from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - backed by 48% in England and 45% in Scotland.
Meanwhile, 68% of English voters and 58% of Scots back the lesser step of an English parliament, which would have similar powers to the Scottish parliament.
The poll, which supports the abolition of the Act of Union between England and Scotland as its 300th anniversary approaches, follows recent surveys in Scotland which have shown more than 50% in favour of independence.
It came as Chancellor Gordon Brown delivered an impassioned defence of the Union at Labour's Scottish conference in Oban. On Friday, Blair also warned of a "constitutional nightmare" if the SNP wins power in Edinburgh next May.
Yesterday, in a further attack on the SNP, against whom Labour will fight a bitter battle for control of the Holyrood parliament, the Chancellor claimed: "We should never let the Nationalists deceive people into believing that you can break up the United Kingdom."
But, seizing on the poll results, SNP leader Alex Salmond said: "There is a powerful pro-independence tide now flowing both north and south of the Border. Both countries now have majorities in favour of their own independence and independence for their neighbour.
"Scots are tired of remote control from London and the onset of devolution has made people realise that, since we have our own parliament, it is time we had one with real powers.
"In England people, quite rightly, resent Scottish MPs bossing them about on English domestic legislation. England has as much right to self-governance as Scotland does."
The ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph shows that 60% of English voters agree, complaining that higher levels of public spending per head of the population in Scotland were "unjustified", with only 28% claiming they were justified. Among Scots, 36% said the current system was unfair, with 51% supporting it.
Ironically, only 21% of English voters said there were "too many Scots" in the Cabinet, with 76% saying this did not matter. Perhaps unsurprisingly, only 4% of Scots agreed that the number of their fellow countrymen in top government posts - who include Brown, John Reid, Alistair Darling, Lord Falconer and Douglas Alexander - was too high.
But voters had serious concerns about the so-called "West Lothian Question" - the ability of Scottish MPs at Westminster to vote on solely English matters while many purely Scottish issues are decided in Edinburgh. Almost two in three English voters (62% ) want Scottish MPs stripped of this right, as did 46% of Scots.
Reacting to the poll last night, the Chancellor said: "There is a debate to be had about the future of the United Kingdom, but I think when you look at the arguments, when you look at the family ties, the economic connections, the shared values, the history of our relationship which has lasted 300 years, people will decide we are stronger together and weaker apart."
A Scottish Labour Party spokesman added: "Our conference in Oban has shown the strong case for building on Labour's achievements within the UK rather than throwing it all away with the damaging nationalist policy of breaking up Britain."
Tory leader David Cameron also issued a robust defence of the Union saying it is "good for us all and we are stronger together than we are apart."
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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