The UK’s top pollster believes the Yes side would be the favourites to win a second independence referendum - for the first time ever.
Professor Sir John Curtice, who made accurate predictions of the results in four general elections, analysed a series of recent surveys which have shown support for Scottish separation from the UK.Panelbase polls conducted this month and in June have indicated that the support for an independent Scotland is holding up among a majority of Scots.
Discussing the topic on the What Scotland Thinks podcast, Professor Curtice said: “It does look as though there’s been another increase in support for independence. One has to say this is the longest period of time over which we’ve had support for Yes averaging ahead of support for No.”
The political scientist added: “This is the first time in Scottish polling history when one could say ‘if there were an independence referendum today, on the evidence available, the Yes side are narrow favourites'.
“We do have levels of support for independence which go beyond just odd individual polls giving a dramatic results – such as the famous, or in some people’s views infamous, YouGov survey shortly before the 2014 referendum which had Yes at 51 per cent.
“Here we’re getting consistent evidence across a sequence of polls all pointing in the same direction and at that point one has to sit up and take notice.”
Earlier this month, senior Nationalists claimed that Westminster can no longer rule out calls for a repeat of the 2014 independence referendum – but pro-union leaders accused the SNP of seeking to divide Scotland when the focus should be on battling Coronavirus.
SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown previously said: “The majority of polls since the Westminster election have had Yes in the lead - majority support for independence is now the established position of the people of Scotland.
“On the basis of this sustained record support, it’s impossible for the UK government to deny Scotland a choice over its future. This out-of-touch Tory government exemplifies the very worst of the Union, and Boris Johnson may be the best recruiting tool for Scottish independence since Margaret Thatcher.”
However, opponents have accused the nationalists of “playing politics” during the pandemic.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “Instead of dividing Scotland once again, the Scottish Government’s entire focus should remain on recovering from the coronavirus crisis and working together in the interests of everyone in Scotland.
“The SNP is playing politics with the coronavirus crisis by trying to drive a wedge between communities based on how governments have responded to the pandemic.
“Whatever you think of Boris Johnson or Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s future is not about the performance of any single politician – it’s about the best future for our country, and that is remaining in the UK so that we can save hundreds of thousands of jobs, keep the pound and avoid a hard border with our friends and neighbours in England.”
Professor Curtice acknowledged the role the coronavirus may have played on opinions towards the constitutional debate.
He said: “The last three months have seen devolution become more visible, across the whole of the UK, than it ever previously has been. This has been a period when all the crucial decisions about the running of the health service, and the measures that were introduced to try and protect public health.”
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