Most Scots Oppose IndyRef2 before Brexit

18 September 2016, 06:00

A new poll's found two thirds of people in Scotland are opposed to another vote on Scottish independence before Britain leaves the EU.

The survey also finds that the post-Brexit referendum lead for the Yes side has vanished.

The Panelbase survey of 1,024 Scots for The Sunday Times and LBC on the second anniversary of the independence referendum puts support for "yes" on 48%, down four points from 52% in June in the aftermath of the EU vote.

There are also signs that Nicola Sturgeon's strategy of touting independence as a way of maintaining Scotland's position in the EU could backfire, amid evidence that it risks antagonising some who voted Yes in 2014.

However, the poll, conducted last week, also contains troubling findings for the unionists' side with signs that six percent of those who voted No in 2014 would now vote for independence because they want to remain in the EU.

Sturgeon has said a second independence referendum is "highly likely" after the UK voted to leave the EU against the wishes of a majority in Scotland but she has previously signalled that she does not want to stage it until support for Yes has grown to about 60%.

The latest poll emphasises how far off she remains from that goal although independence supporters point out that the last campaign saw them close the gap from 70-30 to 45-55 by the time polling day came in September 2014, and argue that a Yes vote from this starting point is highly achievable.

Nonetheless, the option favoured by some senior nationalists of staging a referendum within the next two to three years before Britain pulls out of the EU is not popular - backed by just a third of voters.

Supporters of an early vote believe they would face less resistance from other EU countries and voters to the idea of Scotland applying from within the EU to be a member state rather than from outside.They had hoped to capitalise on a Scottish backlash against the Brexit vote and the disarray within the Labour party.

On Friday Alex Salmond, the former SNP leader, predicted that another independence referendum will be staged in 2018. The poll found that 21% favours another referendum about two to three years from now "when the UK has finished negotiating to leave the EU" while most (46%) believes there should not be another referendum in the next few years.

That contrasts sharply with June's Panelbase poll after the Brexit vote when most (43%) favoured one in the next two or three years, while the UK is negotiating to leave the EU; 17% wanted it two or three years from now and 40% said there should not be another one in the next few years.

At that time 23% of No voters wanted another independence referendum during the Brexit negotiations. That has since fallen to 14% while 73% of them (+10 since June) do not back one in the next few years.

Further insight into how the Brexit vote may be shaping views on independence is offered by the poll's finding that 54% of those who have switched from No to Yes say they have done so because they want to stay in the EU. Those who have switched from Yes to No are more varied in their reasons, but at 30% wanting to leave the EU is the single most common reason.

*Panelbase interviewed 1,024 adults resident in Scotland on September 9-15.