Queen’s death unlikely to change support for Scottish independence – Professor Sir John Curtice

The death of the Queen and subsequent commemorations are unlikely to move the needle on Scottish independence, one of the UK’s most trusted pollsters has said.

Queen Elizabeth II died last week at Balmoral, triggering what was called Operation Unicorn – a series of commemorations and events put in place if the monarch died in Scotland.

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Thousands of people turned out to see the hearse move between the Palace of Holyroodhouse – the royal family’s official residence in Scotland – and the cathedral.

The death of the Queen and subsequent commemorations are unlikely to move the needle on Scottish independence, one of the UK’s most trusted pollsters has said.
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Professor Sir John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, said the events of the past week are unlikely to have an impact on support for Scotland leaving the union.

He said that while it was a “big momentous event, “whether any of this makes any difference to either the future of the monarchy in Scotland or the future of support for the monarchy in Scotland and certainly anything to do with independence, probably not”.

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Of the reasons some have for wishing Scotland would part with the rest of the UK, the professor said, the monarchy does not appear to be one that drives support.

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“There is undoubtedly a link between the attitude towards independence and the attitude towards the monarchy,” he told the PA news agency.

“The majority of people who would vote Yes would prefer to have a republic, that’s very clear from all the polling evidence.”

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The current stance of the SNP – the biggest force in the independence movement and the party that would likely do most to shape a post-independence Scotland – is to maintain the monarch as the head of state.

But Sir John said it is important to understand the “direction of causation”.

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He said: “Do you think that people decide whether or not they’re for or against independence on the basis of what they think about the monarchy, or is their attitude toward the monarchy basically a function, a consequence of their views on independence?

“I would suggest to you that it’s much more plausible to take it for most people that it’s the latter rather than the former.”

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Sir John went on to say that views on the monarchy are unlikely to rank as high in priority as other issues, such as the economy as a whole or the financial impact of leaving the EU.

“If, at the end of the day, you take the view that Brexit is going to be an economic disaster, independence is going to be economically fine, you don’t feel British and you want to be inside the European Union, you ain’t going to say ‘I’m still going to vote for the union on the grounds that I think Scotland should have a monarchy,” he said.

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Likewise, the professor said, those who support Brexit think independence would be economically detrimental and feel as though they are British would not vote to leave the UK because they want to get rid of the monarchy.