MOST English people will never regard the Scots as foreigners even if Scotland votes for independence next year, a new survey has revealed.
The Ipsos Mori survey of 2,515 people across the UK shows that 64 per cent of the English will still believe they have a common bond with the Scots following a Yes vote in 2014.
A majority of Scots also thinks that they will never see the English as residents of a foreign country. Almost two-thirds of a small Scottish sample (429) also said they would always consider themselves British even after a split from the rest of the UK.
The survey was carried out for the think-tank British Future as part of a wider 2013 “state of the nation” report.
It examined the question of British identity following comments made by First Minister Alex Salmond last year in which he said he thought of himself as Scot first, but admitted that there was also a “British connection” and a “European connection”.
Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said: “Our polling shows that although some people feel the debates about devolution and an independence vote are divisive, there is a strong underlying connection between the people of this island. There’s something heartening about that.
“These results show that the Scots will not see the English as foreign even if independence happens, and the rest of Britain feels the same way.”
He added that both the Better Together campaign to retain the Union and the Yes Scotland campaign for independence, would be able to take positives from the findings. “The referendum result will be decided by those Scots who feel both Scottish and British.
“It’s a clear endorsement of Alex Salmond and the civic Scottish Nationalist claim that an independent Scotland would still think about a ‘social union’ of history, geography and culture which would survive after independence, along with good relations with the neighbours to the south.
“Unionists, however, might take the strength of identification with Britishness as helping to explain why independence has yet to persuade a majority.”
Better Together, the cross party campaign group opposing independence headed by former chancellor Alistair Darling, argued it showed the common bonds which united people across the nations of the UK after 300 years of history.
A spokesman said: “This latest report underlines the point we have been making all along. We do have a shared identity with other parts of the United kingdom. It is only the separatists who look across the border and see differences.”
Yes Scotland chief executive Blair Jenkins argued that the survey backed up a vision of a social union which many supporters of independence believe will continue in the UK even if Scotland goes its own way.
Jenkins said: “The ties of family and friendship that exist on these isles will continue and prosper and many will feel no less British than before Autumn 2014. Just as at present, people will be able to pass freely between Scotland, Wales, England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland without the need for a passport or photo ID. The strong cultural links will remain – TV and radio, music, the arts and sport, to name but a few.”
“And while independence means an end to Westminster rule, the two governments will work closely together whenever we have a shared interest.”