Scottish independence: Scots confident over EU

NEARLY two-thirds of Scots believe an independent Scotland would be admitted to the European Union, according to a new survey that reveals a rise in scepticism over claims the country would be kept out.

One month to go, and Scots express confidence over EU membership. Picture: Contributed

With exactly a month to go until polling day, an ICM survey for The Scotsman found a sharp increase in those who believe it is unlikely that Scotland would be excluded from the EU following a Yes vote, despite warnings from the No campaign that other member states would block the country from joining.

The poll found 64 per cent of voters interviewed expect an independent Scotland to be admitted to the EU – an increase of just over 6 per cent from six months ago.

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Just 15 per cent of the sample of more than 1,000 voters said they believed an independent Scotland was likely to be blocked from joining the EU.

Half of No voters accept that an independent Scotland would be admitted to the EU, while the figure rises to 86 per cent among Yes campaign backers.

The same sample of Scots polled by ICM found that backing for independence has risen by two points to 45 per cent, while backing for No fell by two per cent to 55 per cent, when the “don’t knows” were excluded from the sample.

The boost for the Yes campaign came despite more than 52 per cent of the voters surveyed stating that they thought the SNP’s plan to share the pound in a formal currency union with the remainder of the UK was unconvincing, after the main unionist parties said they would veto the proposal.

Both sides of the independence debate clashed on the EU findings last night as the campaign entered its final month. A spokesman for Yes Scotland said: “More and more Scots are coming to realise that the No campaign’s claim that Scotland wouldn’t be allowed to remain in the European Union is just another ridiculous scare story.

“The only threat to Scotland’s continuing EU membership is if we vote to stay under the Westminster system and allow David Cameron’s proposed in/out referendum to drag us out against our will.”

However, No campaigners last night warned there were still major doubts over an independent Scotland’s status within the EU.

A Better Together spokesman claimed the SNP’s independence plans would put at risk a series of EU benefits and opt-outs Scotland benefits from by being part of the UK.

The spokesman said: “The experts, the leaders of the European Commission and senior figures like the prime minister of Spain, have all said we would need to reapply to join the EU if we left the UK. This would be a long and complicated process.

“That means all of the special EU deals Scottish families benefit from today as part of the UK would be put at risk, like the zero VAT rate on kids’ clothes, our rebate worth £135 a year for every household and our opt-outs on the euro and the no-borders immigration scheme.”

Today’s ICM findings show a hardening of Eurosceptic attitudes among Scots with nearly one third, or 31 per cent, saying an independent Scotland should not join the EU – an increase of 2 per cent on a previous ICM poll.

Half of the 1,005 voters surveyed said Scotland should join the EU as an independent member state after a Yes vote, a decline of 4 per cent in the pro-European position on the last poll in February.

There were 18 per cent of voters undecided – an increase of one per cent among those classed as “don’t knows”.

The change in attitudes towards Europe comes after the anti-EU Ukip secured its first MEP in Scotland in May, with Nigel Farage’s party taking more than 10 per cent of the vote north of the Border.

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser claimed the Eurosceptic attitude towards an independent Scotland joining the EU showed there were similar levels of hostility towards Europe north and south of the Border. He said: “Most people in the No campaign haven’t questioned whether Scotland would eventually be a member of the EU, but what we have questioned is the timescale and the terms of entry.

“But it’s fairly clear from these findings that a sizeable proportion of voters believe that Scotland may not be allowed into the EU on any terms.”