Brexit: New poll gives boost to Scottish independence plans

TWO thirds of Scots who are "undecided" about independence, believe Brexit makes it more likely - and more than half would be more likely to vote Yes in a second independence referendum if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, according to a new poll.

Results from the first Progress Scotland poll - a company set up by former SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson and independent polling expert Mark Diffley - suggest that Brexit is radically changing Scots views on independence.

According to the new figures, the issue of EU membership has gone from being of concern to just 22 per cent of voters at the time of the 2014 independence vote, to being the main concern at 43 per cent - above the economy and the NHS.

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And the poll, of more than 2000 people, found that of those "undecided" on independence, 63 per cent now believe Brexit will make it more likely, with just 13 per cent disagreeing. It also found that 45 per cent of formerly undecided voters have changed their view on independence as a result of Brexit.

Hope Over Fear Rally. Picture: John DevlinHope Over Fear Rally. Picture: John Devlin
Hope Over Fear Rally. Picture: John Devlin

And while 49 per cent of the same cohort say they will wait to see the impact of Brexit before deciding how they would vote in any new independence referendum, that changed to 56 per cent saying they would be more likely to back independence in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The polling will give a boost to those in the independence movement who have been agitating for a second referendum. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will reveal what her next steps will be on a second indyref in a matter of weeks.

However when all those polled were asked, on a sliding scale, where they stood on Scottish independence only 24 per cent said they “completely supported” the idea, with 40 per cent saying they “completely supported staying in the UK”.

Mark Diffley, who designed the questions for the poll said: “Since June 2016, politics across the UK has been dominated by the issue of Brexit. It is therefore unsurprising that, on the day that the UK had been due to leave the EU, new polling highlights the pivotal role that the issue of EU membership and Brexit is likely to play in any future Scottish independence referendum.

New polling suggest Brexit is affecting voters stance on independence for Scotland.New polling suggest Brexit is affecting voters stance on independence for Scotland.
New polling suggest Brexit is affecting voters stance on independence for Scotland.

“The importance of the EU as an issue which drives opinion on independence has doubled; 22 per cent of voters put EU membership in the top two or three issues which determined their vote in 2014. Now, that figure is 43 per cent making it the single most important issue for voters in another referendum."

He added that the provides evidence of how the issue of the EU might impact on voters who have no firm position on the independence question. "The poll suggests that this cohort of ‘open-minded’ Scots has both strong views on the EU and is reassessing its views on independence in light of the Brexit debate," he said.

Progress Scotland Managing Director Angus Robertson said: “These findings illustrate the significant impact that Brexit is having on the views of open-minded people towards Scottish independence. These are just the initial findings from the inaugural large-scale opinion poll for Progress Scotland and more results will follow.

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"This is just the beginning of our work, which over time will allow us to better understand an ever growing number of people in Scotland who are open-minded towards independence."

SNP depute leader Keith Brown welcomed the research, which he said shows that people are “open to changing their view on independence” as a result of Brexit.