Boris Johnson rejecting indyref2 despite pro-independence majority would be supported by Scots, poll suggests

Boris Johnson’s ‘just say no’ approach to demands for a second independence referendum would be backed by almost half of Scots, a new poll has suggested.

In a blow to pro-independence parties hoping the election of a pro-independence Scottish Parliament might shift the Prime Minister’s view on indyref2, 44 per cent of Scots said they would back Mr Johnson if he simply said no in a survey by Savanta ComRes for The Scotsman.

Thirty-three per cent said they would not support the Prime Minister, while 10 per cent said they did not know, and 13 per cent neither agreed nor disagreed.

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Nicola Sturgeon claimed earlier this month that Mr Johnson’s position of a 40-year gap between votes would become untenable should the SNP return a majority at this election.

Boris Johnson would be backed by the Scottish public if he rejected demands for a second independence referendum

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The survey interviewed 1,001 Scottish adults aged 16 or over between April 16 and 20.

A pro-independence majority is the most likely outcome from the Holyrood elections on May 6, with recent polls suggesting the SNP and the Scottish Greens will easily hold a majority of the seats in the chamber.

This same poll suggested the SNP would narrowly miss out on an outright majority and be reliant on the Scottish Greens to pass major legislation and the budget.

Alba, Alex Salmond’s new party, registered just 1 per cent of the vote in this latest poll – the same level as the Abolish the Scottish Parliament party and UKIP – leaving it with no MSPs.

However, some polls have seen Alba support registering as high as 6 per cent and returning as many as an MSP in each electoral region.

The former first minister has claimed a ‘super-majority’ of pro-independence MSPs would change the narrative around independence and says the Scottish Government should begin independence negotiations immediately after the election if one is achieved.

Mr Johnson's position of rejecting any clamour for indyref2 is reportedly wavering, with reports the UK Government is contemplating a snap poll on the issue.

The SNP also believe the question has moved from how to block a referendum to controlling the timing and the nature of the vote.

Those most likely to agree with the Prime Minister blocking a referendum are those voting for his party, with 90 per cent of 2016 Scottish Tory voters backing their leader.

However, almost a fifth of SNP supporters (17 per cent) would also back the Prime Minister if he rejected calls for indyref2.

Of those expressing a voting intention if a second referendum was held tomorrow, 13 per cent of Yes voters would back the Conservative leader, with only 5 per cent of No voters opposing such a move.

Two-thirds (69 per cent) of Yes voters would oppose the move, while 85 per cent of No voters would support the Prime Minister.

Chris Hopkins, associate director at Savanta ComRes said the split between Yes and No voters on supporting Mr Johnson’s strategy was to be expected.

He said: “The SNP and First Minister are naturally hoping that a pro-independence majority at the election in a fortnight, however it comes, will be enough to force the Prime Minister’s hand into granting a second independence referendum, but this poll shows more Scots agree than disagree with the PM’s pre-election stance to block any second referendum, even if a pro-independence majority is returned to Holyrood.

"While naturally there’s a clear Yes/No difference in opinion, it is interesting to note that 13 per cent of current Yes voters back Boris Johnson’s stance, while just one in 20 No voters disagree and think the PM is wrong to reject a second referendum, even if a majority of the MSPs in Holyrood support independence.”

If Mr Johnson was to reject indyref2, the Scottish public would be most likely to support peaceful protests as the next step for the independence movement, the poll suggests.

Net support for peaceful protests is shown to be at +7, with taking the UK Government to court the next most popular on -6 and lobbying the international community third on -7.

Holding a wildcat referendum is opposed by 45 per cent of Scots and has a net support of -17, while 43 per cent of voters believe the decision to block indyref2 should be accepted (net support of +12).

Yes voters are generally more split on the best strategy if indyref2 is blocked.

The most popular move for the independence movement among Yes voters should Mr Johnson reject a request for indyref2 are lobbying the international community (net support of +68) and taking the UK Government to court (net support +68).

Peaceful protests (+57) and holding a wildcat referendum (+47) are the next most popular moves for Yes voters, with accepting the choice has a net support of -30.

For No voters, all moves are almost universally disliked apart from, unsurprisingly, accepting the decision not to hold a second independence referendum (net support of +50).

The poll also shows that almost half of voters would reject plans for a ‘unilateral declaration of independence’ should a pro-independence majority be returned after May 6.

The policy, to declare independence and begin negotiations on a settlement is a similar policy to that of the Alba Party.

Such a move, whereby the Scottish Parliament would declare Scotland independent and negotiations on the terms of independence would begin immediately after the election, would be opposed by 47 per cent of voters in the event of a pro-independence majority in Holyrood.

Just a quarter (24 per cent) would support the move, with 16 per cent stating they didn’t have a view and 14 per cent stating they did not know.

More than a third (38 per cent) said they would “strongly oppose” the move.

This is also subject to a Yes/No split, with 52 per cent of those saying they would vote Yes in indyref2 backing the move and 17 per cent saying they would oppose it.

In contrast, 85 per cent of No voters would oppose the move, with just 2 per cent supporting it.

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