Voters split 50/50 on Scottish independence, new poll suggests

A new poll has suggested voters are split 50/50 on whether they would back Scottish independence in a new referendum, while 50 per cent want another vote by 2026.

The survey, carried out by Ipsos Scotland for STV, has revealed backing for a ‘Yes’ vote is now at 50 per cent when undecided voters were removed – down from a high of 55 per cent from the corresponding poll in November last year.

Some 31 per cent of those asked said they did not want another referendum on the issue to ever be held, while 32 per cent wanted another referendum by the end of next year and 18 per cent opted for some point before the end of the parliamentary term in 2026.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is seeking to hold a fresh referendum by the end of 2023, with the Scottish Government setting aside £20 million for that purpose in its spending review allocations set out on Tuesday.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is expected to be encouraged by the poll results. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Ipsos Scotland surveyed 1,000 adults aged 16 and over across Scotland between May 23-29 to complete the poll.

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The survey indicates approval ratings for Boris Johnson have plummeted to a new low in Scotland, with 83 per cent saying they were “dissatisfied” with the Prime Minister’s performance.

A total of 53 per cent of respondents said they were “satisfied” with Nicola Sturgeon’s performance – down 4 per cent on a corresponding poll from November last year – with 41 per cent “dissatisfied” and 6 per cent saying they did not know.

An independence referendum march. Picture: John Devlin

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar’s popularity levels are holding firm, the poll suggests, with 46 per cent of respondents saying they were “satisfied” with his performance – up one point from November 2021.

Just 24 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the performance of Scottish Tories leader Douglas Ross – the exact same result as the previous poll.

Results also showed that if a general election were to be held now, Labour would likely regain second place from the Conservatives, with an estimated vote share from Scottish voters of 23 per cent.

The result would be well behind a dominant SNP (on 44 per cent), but ahead of the Conservatives, on 19 per cent – down from 25 per cent in the November survey.

The proportion of voters who said Scottish independence/devolution was one of the most important issues facing Scotland today in the latest poll has fallen by ten points since November last year, to 17 per cent.

Inflation and the rising cost of living was cited as the greatest concern, with 30 per cent of respondents saying it was an important issue facing Scotland.

Rachel Ormston, research director at Ipsos Scotland, said: "People in Scotland are much more optimistic about their future standard of living if Keir Starmer’s Labour Party win the next general election than if Boris Johnson’s Conservatives stay in power – 64 per cent think they would be worse off if Johnson’s Conservatives win, compared with just 30 per cent who think they would be worse off with Starmer’s Labour.”

On the result in polling for Scottish Labour, Ms Ormston added: “If Scottish Labour wants to grow its recovery beyond tentative green shoots, it must engage with these three key challenges – convincing voters that it is more competent and trustworthy than the SNP on the policy areas that matter to people, further enhancing the profile and perceptions of its leaders, and, crucially, persuading those who favour an independent Scotland that a vote for Scottish Labour is nonetheless in their interests.”

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