A dossier of Scottish coverage of the Ashcroft opinion poll which found a majority in Scotland would vote Yes in a fresh independence referendum has been sent to Number 10 by Ruth Davidson.
The Scottish Conservative leader said that the poll would be used as part of “discussions going forward” with Boris Johnson as she said she continued to support “him in his goal of getting a [Brexit] deal”.
The poll was conducted in the wake of Mr Johnson’s first visit as Prime Minister to Scotland last week and showed 52 per cent of Scots are now in favour of independence, compared with 48 per cent against. It also saw almost half polled – 47 per cent – say they wanted a second independence referendum to be held within the next two years.
READ MORE: John McDonnell: Labour would not block Scottish independence referendum
It is the first poll to register a majority for independence since March 2017, and appears to confirm fears in Scottish Tory and Labour ranks, that the election of Mr Johnson as Conservative leader, and as Prime Minister, could increase support for a second vote and deliver a victory for the Yes campaign.
It also undermines Ms Davidson’s consistent claim that there was no public support for a second independence referendum.
Yesterday, after an Edinburgh Fringe event where she was speaking, Ms Davidson said that the result of the poll “obviously registered” but that it was the “first poll which showed them slightly ahead since 2017, and we’ve had two years of polls showing the other side slightly ahead and that’s never made front page news.”
She added: “But we’re not complacent, we obviously want to make sure that the UK government delivers for the people of Scotland and that’s the best way to ensure that the majority will of the country which was to stay together, is honoured.”
Asked if the poll made the point that Mr Johnson’s election could sacrifice the Union, she said: “There are going to be discussions going forward, obviously the UK government knows that – we sent all the Scottish coverage of that poll down to the Prime Minister – and I continue to support him in his goal of getting a deal for the country.”
READ MORE: Michael Gove claims EU ‘not interested’ in Brexit talks
An SNP spokesperson said the revelation that the coverage had been highlighted directly to the Prime Minister showed that the Scottish Conservatives were “panicking” as they were “losing the argument”.
They added: “A majority of people in Scotland want independence and they want that choice over their future before 2021. It would be a democratic outrage for any Tory government to deny the people of Scotland the right to choose their own future, and this week’s poll shows such an anti-democratic position is completely unsustainable.”
However a spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives attempted to play down the importance of the dossier, and said: “As this was a day of substantial political coverage, we copied in colleagues down south to our media summary – though they had already seen them.”
Earlier, at her Fringe event, where she was gently interviewed about her life and politics by journalist Graham Spiers, Ms Davidson had called on Mr Johnson to find a compromise with the EU over Brexit to avoid a no-deal exit from the EU and protect “millions of people who would really struggle is there was even a mild economic shock”.
She said: “Compromise is seen as a dirty word, but actually compromise is how you get stuff done. And I would encourage everybody to compromise, the PM, the government, and the EU itself.”