Scots want Covid eliminated before independence referendum, says poll

Coronavirus must be eliminated and jobs and growth recovered before any second independence referendum, according to a new poll.

The centre-right think tank Onward found that 49 per cent of voters – including 48 per cent of Yes supporters – think that “coronavirus should be completely eliminated in Scotland” before a referendum is held.

The organisation’s polling also found that 43 per cent of Scots – including 40 per cent of Yes voters – wanted jobs and economic growth in Scotland to be "back to where they were before coronavirus" as another condition of having a second referendum.

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Onward claims its survey, conducted by Hanbury Strategy, is the most comprehensive study of attitudes towards the Union since 2014 as it is based on three separate polls.

A new poll says Scots don't want another independence referendum until Covid is eliminated.

The first two were conducted between February 12 and March 7 and involved 4,000 Scots voters and 1,000 people in the rest of the UK, and then a further 1,500 booster poll was carried out in Scotland between March 5-7.

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Its poll also found that support for independence fell by three points during the week Nicola Sturgeon gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament committee investigating how the government handled sexual harassment complaints, from 56 per cent Yes in late February to 53 per cent in the first weekend in March. In the same timeframe, support for remaining in the UK rose from 44 per cent to 47 per cent.

But despite the volatility, the organisation says support for independence is still higher than before the 2014 referendum, with Yes retaining a 30+ point lead among 18-45 year olds, a 16 point lead among working class voters, and net support in five of Scotland’s eight regions.

It also found that 35 per cent of Scots would be more likely to vote for independence if the SNP gets a majority at the Holyrood election and the UK Government refuses a referendum, although if the SNP holds a referendum without the agreement of the UK Government, 33 per cent say they would be less likely to vote Yes.

The poll also found that overall 38 per cent of voters said indyref2 should either be after 2027 or “never”, while those who support a referendum within two years stood at 35 per cent.

Will Tanner, report-co-author and director of Onward, said: "The break-up of the United Kingdom is not a foregone conclusion. Headline support for Scottish independence may be worryingly high, but it is clear that Scots do not want a referendum until coronavirus has been eliminated and the economy recovered.

"In addition, the Alex Salmond trial appears to be sowing doubt in voters' minds at exactly the moment the vaccine programme is proving the benefits of partnership within the Union."

The poll comes just a day after constitution secretary Mike Russell published a draft independence Bill.

SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: "When the current Covid crisis is over, the people of Scotland – not Boris Johnson – have the right to decide how we recover from the pandemic.

"The SNP is fully-focused on tackling Covid-19, but the powers that come with independence are essential if we are to create the kind of country we know is possible after the pandemic.”

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