Independent Scotland 'Should Keep Pound'

17 June 2014, 05:00

More Scots believe Trident nuclear missiles should stay in the country if it becomes independent than think the weapons should be removed, new research has revealed.

Two-fifths (41%) of people north of the border said that if there is a Yes vote in September's referendum, Britain's nuclear submarines - currently sited on the Faslane base on the Clyde - could continue to be based there.

But 37% do not agree with the weapons remaining in Scotland if the country votes for independence.

Alex Salmond's Scottish Government has made its opposition to nuclear weapons clear, and wants the Trident submarines to be moved out of Scotland in the event of a Yes vote.

In England and Wales, just over a quarter (26%) of people agree that Britain's nuclear weapons should continue to be based in Scotland if it becomes a separate country, while 63% said they should either ''definitely'' or ''probably'' be moved elsewhere.

The findings were revealed in the latest British social attitude survey from NatCen, which said ''people in Scotland are not necessarily convinced that becoming independent should require the removal of British nuclear weapons''.

The 2013 survey found four-fifths (79%) of people in Scotland said it should continue to use the pound as its currency if there is a Yes vote, with just 11% saying a separate Scotland should have its own currency and 7% favouring the euro.

But the research also found 28% of people in Scotland said that while they want to be able to use the pound if the country is independent, they ''anticipated that in practice this would not be possible''.

In England and Wales, 38% of those questioned said if Scotland left the UK it should ''definitely be allowed'' to continue to use the pound, while 31% believe it should ''probably be allowed'' to do so.

Around two-thirds (65%) of people in England and Wales believe an independent Scotland should be allowed to keep the same monarch, while only around a quarter (26%) believe it should not.

With regards to the BBC, 54% of those surveyed south of the border say viewers in an independent Scotland should ''definitely be allowed'' to watch BBC programmes ''just as they do now'', while 27% think they should ''probably be allowed'' to do so and only 13% opposed it.

Almost half (47%) of people in Scotland think they should be able to keep their British passport and have a Scottish one too if there is a Yes vote, while 32% feel people should choose between having a Scottish and British passport, and 17% say they should only be able to have a Scottish passport after independence.

But in England and Wales, 33% say Scots should be able to hold both passports after independence, while 58% say they should have to choose which passport to use.

If the referendum results in a No vote, 45% of people in England and Wales would support Scotland having more power and responsibility over taxation and welfare, with 27% opposed and 23% neither in favour nor against such a move.

''Public opinion in the rest of the UK would not necessarily be enthusiastic about more Scottish devolution, but would probably be willing to tolerate it,'' the report stated.

Professor John Curtice, of NatCen Social Research, said: ''If Scotland does vote to leave the United Kingdom, Scotland and England will have to find ways of getting along with each other. In some instances, such as the monarchy and the BBC, there appears to be a willingness on both sides of the border to share institutions.

''Even on the issue on which the Scottish and UK governments have been most obviously at loggerheads - on the prospect of an independent Scotland sharing the pound - public opinion in England and Wales may not necessarily be as hostile to the idea as has sometimes been suggested.

''However, those living in the rest of the UK might want Trident moved out of Scotland, irrespective of whether a future Scottish government is willing to keep the nuclear weapons facility on its shores or not.''

A Treasury spokesman said: ''The position on currency union is clear. The Chancellor, Chief Secretary and shadow chancellor have all said there will not be one with a separate Scotland. The only way to keep the pound is to stay together in the UK.

''The more people understand the proposition being suggested by the Scottish Government, the less they like it. Last month's Populus poll found that more than two-thirds of people in England reject any deal to share the UK pound. Public opinion has shifted, and shifted significantly.

''When it comes to a currency union, the people don't want it, business rejects it and Parliament would never pass it.''

SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said: ''Strong majorities north and south of the border agree that an independent Scotland should keep the pound, which pulls the rug from under the scaremongering of the No campaign.

''The survey also shows strong support for an independent Scotland having the Queen as our head of state, and in terms of broadcasting policy independence means more choice for viewers, including the current BBC output and a new Scottish broadcaster.

''Other polls show over 60% opposition to Trident in Scotland, and this survey again finds a majority of people in Scotland are against the UK having nuclear weapons. It also finds that only a minority of people across the rest of the UK would want to see Trident stay in Scotland following a Yes vote.

''There is no place for nuclear weapons in Scotland - with a Yes vote we have the chance to make a real change and send A powerful anti-nuclear message to the rest of the world.''