Scottish independence referendum discussions should stop due to Ukraine, say majority of Scots in new poll

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A majority of Scots have said plans for when a second independence referendum could take place should stop due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, a new poll has found.

Voters from across the political spectrum, including significant minorities of those who backed Yes in 2014 and the SNP in 2021, believe discussions around the timing of indyref2 should stop due to the conflict.

The survey results come amid a slight bounce in support for No and ahead of the Scottish Conservative party conference in Aberdeen, which begins today with a visit from Boris Johnson.

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Why new Scottish independence polling should worry Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will also use the opportunity of a video link address to party members to extoll the “might” of the UK Treasury.

He is expected to tell members: “Two years ago, we faced the greatest challenge of many of our lifetimes and in response we pulled together resources as one United Kingdom to get through it.

"The UK Government has a plan to deliver opportunity and growth in every part of our country and it is a plan that we want Scotland to share in, to drive, to lead.

"After all we’ve been through, let’s build that brighter, more prosperous future for the whole of the United Kingdom, together.”

Scots believe discussions around IndyRef2 should be stopped due to the war in UkraineScots believe discussions around IndyRef2 should be stopped due to the war in Ukraine
Scots believe discussions around IndyRef2 should be stopped due to the war in Ukraine

The poll, undertaken by Savanta ComRes for The Scotsman, interviewed 1,008 Scottish adults aged 16 or over between March 10 and 16.

Scots were asked whether they believe discussions over when a second independence referendum should take place should stop due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In total, 59 per cent of Scots said they should, compared to 29 per cent stating they believed the discussions should continue.

Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid caution has led to fewer deaths in ScotlandNicola Sturgeon’s Covid caution has led to fewer deaths in Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid caution has led to fewer deaths in Scotland

Those calling for discussions to stop include 43 per cent of SNP voters – with 47 per cent stating they should continue – and 42 per cent of 2014 Yes voters.

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A third (34 per cent) of those who would vote Yes in another independence referendum also agreed.

However, the majority of prospective Yes voters (57 per cent) wanted discussions to continue.

Overall, Scots were less convinced the ongoing and growing cost-of-living crisis would justify stopping discussions around another independence referendum.

A majority (52 per cent) still believed this was enough to stop the discussions, but 38 per cent said discussions should continue.

In total, 30 per cent of 2014 Yes voters, 19 per cent of prospective indyref2 Yes voters, and 29 per cent of SNP voters said this was a legitimate reason to stop discussions about another vote.

The survey results follow recent comments from Ian Blackford that suggested a further delay to indyref2 due to the crisis in Ukraine.

The SNP Westminster leader said: “We have got to be respectful of the responsibilities that we have in the short term, but I’m also respectful to the principle that we have a mandate for an independence referendum.”

Nicola Sturgeon later re-committed to her timetable of a vote by the end of 2023, stating “my plans and my thinking hasn’t changed”.

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The First Minister has regularly stated she wishes to facilitate the means for another referendum vote by the end of 2023, which would mean passing a referendum bill in Holyrood and gaining permission from the UK Government to hold such a vote.

The UK Government has repeatedly said it does not plan on allowing a vote to take place.

The poll will also boost unionists with 49 per cent of Scots stating they would back No if another independence referendum was held tomorrow, up three percentage points since the last poll in this series in January.

Support for Yes has dropped by two points to 44 per cent, with undecideds at 7 per cent.

With don’t knows removed, support for Yes is at 48 per cent, down two points, and No at 52 per cent, up two points compared to the 50/50 stalemate in January.

The poll also demonstrated the strongest support among Scots for never holding another independence referendum, with 27 per cent stating another vote should never happen.

However, 34 per cent of Scots agree with the First Minister that a vote should be held within the next two years, with a further 15 per cent stating one should be held within five years.

Asked whether there should be another referendum without a timeframe, 45 per cent of Scots said there should be a vote, with 47 stating there should not and 8 per cent stating they did not know.

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Independence is also the equal fifth most important issue facing Scotland, the poll suggests, behind health, the economy, education and Brexit.

The Scottish Conservatives are also viewed as the best party to protect the union between Scotland and the UK, with 37 per cent of Scots trusting Douglas Ross’s party the most on the issue.

However, the SNP also register 17 per cent support on the same issue.

Overall, the Scottish Tory leader struggles to come across to more than a third of voters as trustworthy, honest, genuine or strong, and more than half (54 per cent) of Scots believe he is not charismatic and 35 per cent believe he is divisive.

However, he is viewed as intelligent by 45 per cent of the electorate.

Mr Ross is behind Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar on most of these metrics. The polls results show more Scots think Mr Sarwar is trustworthy, honest, genuine, intelligent, and strong than not.

However, the Scottish Labour leader also suffers from not being viewed as charismatic, a trait just 24 per cent of Scots think he holds.

Despite this, Scottish Labour have consolidated their position as the second most popular party in Scotland, the poll also suggests, with their highest constituency voting intention in any poll since November 2018.

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Almost a quarter (24 per cent, up two points since January) of Scots said they would back Mr Sarwar’s party in their constituency just over a week after the leader’s first in-person party conference.

In the regional list vote, Labour’s support registers at 22 per cent, up two points.

This puts the party ahead of the Scottish Conservatives by four and two points in the constituency and regional votes respectively, with Mr Ross’s party sitting on 20 per cent in both votes.

The Liberal Democrats have support of 7 per cent in the constituency vote and 8 per cent in the regional list, down one point in each.

Voters are also still backing the Scottish Greens, with their regional list popularity at 13 per cent, up one point on the previous poll in this series and close to their record high of 14 per cent.

Alex Salmond’s Alba party are still languishing on 2 per cent of the vote, with others securing 1 per cent.

Want to hear more from The Scotsman's politics team? Check out the latest episode of our political podcast, The Steamie.

It's available wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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