EXCLUSIVE poll in The Scotsman shows growing support for the Remain camp driven by fears about the economy’s future
On latest poll findings we could be sailing close to a highly divisive outcome of the European Union referendum: the possibility of Scotland voting Remain while the rest of the UK votes Leave could be edging closer, an outcome that would fuel calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Warnings about the consequences if we vote to leave at the 23 June referendum have had a familiar ring to Scottish ears. But to judge by our exclusive poll in The Scotsman this morning, it looks as if it is paying off north of the Border for the Remain camp.
The main poll finding will come as little surprise: voters in Scotland have long been more disposed to EU membership while euroscepticism in any of its guises has never attracted the same level and degree of support as it has in the rest of the UK.
And the EU referendum battle has not aroused the same level of engagement, let alone passion as appears to be the case down south. Indeed, it has been largely overshadowed by the Holyrood election campaign and the government’s leaflet distribution to every household did not take place until after the Scottish parliament polls closed on 5 May.
However, the ICM poll shows that support is growing here for the UK to remain in the EU, with more than half of those who say they are prepared to vote indicating that they would vote Remain.
Some 54 per cent of Scots believe the UK should remain, compared with just 32 per cent who think it should leave, with 14 per cent undecided.
It represents a clear increase on an ICM poll carried out for our sister paper, Scotland on Sunday in March which put the remain side on 50 per cent, with 35 per cent siding with leave and 15 per cent don’t knows.
Several features stand out.
Particularly notable is the impact that the warnings on the economy from the pro-Remain camp have had on voter attitudes here, with the survey finding that more people believe Brexit would have a negative impact on the economy over time.
Asked to gauge the impact on the UK leaving the EU on trade, jobs and the economy, some 48 per cent of respondents said the repercussions would be bad, an increase of three percentage points on the March ICM poll.
Only a third of people (33 per cent) said leaving would have a good effect.
The poll also shows that support for Remain at 67 per cent is strongest among Labour voters, while SNP voters are more divided, with 51 per cent for staying in, 38 per cent for leave and 11 per cent undecided.
Given the volume of warnings from the Remain camp on the economic consequences of voting Leave – the latest of these include predictions of house price falls, a weakening of sterling and higher food prices – it would not be surprising if support for Brexit weakened in the final weeks of the campaign.
But for Scotland, it seems, our minds are already made up.
Hosie just had to face the music
Stewart Hosie’s decision to stand down as deputy leader of the SNP at Westminster is surely correct.
However much that attitudes have changed and that the public is generally less exercised about the private lives of public figures (though no less hungry for the titillating details) the recent revelations surrounding his extra marital affair have brought intense scrutiny of his conduct and the extent to which parliamentary time – and resources – were devoted to pursuit of the affair.
Mr Hosie is married to Shona Robison, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport in the Scottish Government. As well as the problems that the affair will inevitably have caused for his wife and family, it has put First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in a difficult position. She is a close friend of Ms Robison and the revelations cannot but complicate her relationship with Mr Hosie.
Questions have also been raised about the use of parliamentary expenses by the MPs in their relations with the woman at the centre of the revelations. At best, this imbroglio will be seen as a diversion and distraction from Westminster parliamentary work and from constituency concerns. Voters, quite reasonably, expect their MPs to be fully focused on the job they were put into Westminster to do.
A measure of understanding is required here. In his letter to the First Minister, Mr Hosie has cited health reasons underlying his decision. Problems with high blood pressure have required three hospital visits.
It is fully understandable in the light of these that the scrutiny of his private life and the pressures this has brought should inform his decision to step aside. This should enable him to begin to repair relations with his family and ensure that his work as an MP is uncompromised.