Brexit's effect on Scottish independence debate not quite the gift the SNP had hoped for – Scotsman comment

According to conventional wisdom, Brexit has been a gift to the independence movement.

After all, it can be said and SNP politicians say it often, that Scotland was dragged out of the European Union against its will with the 62-38 per cent split between Remain and Leave about as decisive a victory as any democrat could hope for.

However, according to a new poll by Savanta ComRes for The Scotsman, the effect on public opinion has actually been smaller than one might expect.

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The survey found 41 per cent of respondents believed Brexit had gone badly so far, with just 16 per cent thinking it had gone well, which should be a warning to Boris Johnson that trouble is brewing.

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However, while 33 per cent were more likely to vote for independence in the event of a second referendum, leaving the EU has had the opposite effect on 21 per cent, who told pollsters they were now more likely to vote No.

Before the 2014 referendum, the Yes camp offered a vision of Scotland as an independent EU member state with freedom of movement and free trade across the whole of the EU which, until Brexit, would have included the rest of the UK.

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Now the choice is different. Scotland can either stay in a union with the UK or break it to form another with the EU.

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Boris Johnson is likely to come under increasing pressure to explain how ordinary people are benefiting from Brexit (Picture: Hollie Adams/WPA pool/Getty Images)

And the border problems that have affected Northern Ireland and general disruption of UK-EU trade may have added an extra dose of reality to discussions about Scottish independence. Suddenly, the prospect of checkpoints, delayed goods and passport controls is no longer quite so theoretical.

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However, the poll has another finding that suggests all this could change: the large numbers of undecideds, both on the outcome of Brexit and its influence on the independence debate.

As the Covid crisis diminishes, the Brexit effect may increase in the public’s consciousness. Johnson is likely to come under pressure to explain exactly how this calamitous mistake, which has undoubtedly damaged the UK economy, has improved the lives of ordinary people.

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So, it may not be having a decisive effect on support for independence, but the political consequences of Brexit are far from over.

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