Scotland Backs Independence After Brexit

27 June 2016, 12:15 | Updated: 27 June 2016, 12:18

ballot box

Scotland would vote for independence if a snap referendum was held today, a new poll carried out in the wake of the UK's Brexit decision has suggested.

The Survation poll has pointed to a shift in public opinion, with 53.7% saying they would vote for independence, against 46.3% in favour of staying in the UK.

Including "don't knows'', the figures are 47.8% for Yes with 41.3% backing the No side.

Scottish voters rejected independence by 55% to 45% in the September 2014 referendum.

But the latest poll was carried out after the UK voted on Thursday to leave the European Union by a margin of 52% to 48%. In stark contrast, Scotland opted to be part of the EU, by 62% to 38%.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the situation means a second vote on Scottish independence is now "highly likely'' and has warned she would consider asking Holyrood to block the UK's departure from Europe if MSPs are required to give formal backing for Brexit.

The latest poll results were based on the responses of 1,002 adults questioned over the weekend.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell accused Ms Sturgeon of "opportunism'' to further the ``independence agenda''.

He insisted the arguments for Scotland being part of the UK are "as compelling today as they were in 2014''.

But he sidestepped the question of whether Westminster would grant the powers for a second independence referendum to be held.

Mr Mundell says: "What I've said is there are two questions. One question is could there be another referendum? Of course there could, that's a process issue.

"Should there be another referendum? That's a quite different issue, and my view is that there should not be another independence referendum.

"I believe that the arguments for Scotland being part of the UK are as compelling today as they were in 2014.

"I think it's very, very unhelpful that at this moment, where we do look to bring stability, that virtually the first thing that is mentioned by the First Minister before the ink had even dried on the declaration of the result in the EU referendum is independence.

"I think a lot of people in Scotland will have taken a step back and think this is just opportunism in terms of trying to exploit a situation of uncertainty to push the independence agenda.''

Asked whether Westminster would stand in the way of the First Minister holding such a referendum, or whether it would grant the Section 30 order to pave the way for such a ballot, he said: "What I'm going to do is argue that there shouldn't be another independence referendum.''

On Sunday, Ms Sturgeon said if the Scottish Parliament has to give its consent to the UK's departure from Europe she would ''of course'' consider asking MSPs not to do this.

Former SNP first minister Alex Salmond said this would not be a veto because Westminster can override a block from Holyrood under clause 28 of the Scotland Act.

He pointed to the fact that every single local authority area north of the border voted to remain part of Europe and added: "You can't expect MSPs with that mandate from the people to just say 'oh well we'll just pass the legislative consent and tear up the people's mandate in Scotland'.''

"I think Nicola is playing an absolute blinder. She's the only politician over the last few days who's looked like she knows what she's doing and is setting a clear course. She's taking things step by step as indeed she should.

"The negotiations she's opening across Europe with European leaders and institutions while Westminster's in chaos are to try and establish how do you secure Scotland's position within Europe.

"If the answer to that is the only way you can do that is through independence then she brings the independence referendum off the table and very much on the cards.''

Responding to the poll, SNP business convener Derek MacKay said: "This poll is a strong endorsement of the actions of the First Minister and shows that when faced with the choice between being taken out of the EU against our will by a right wing Tory government, or continuing as outward looking, independent members of the European Union more and more people are open to the possibilities independence brings.''

Former shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran said "the case for independence in 2018 could be stronger than in 2014'' after the Brexit vote.

Ms Curran, who held Labour's Scottish portfolio while the party was leading the Better Together campaign, said Labour must now face up to the "growing divergence between the politics of Scotland and the rest of Britain''.

Writing in The Times, she said: "Having campaigned against independence, it breaks my heart that we are here again.

"And we must be honest: the case for independence in 2018 could be stronger than in 2014.

"While I understand the politics is shifting, I am compelled to acknowledge the values that drove me to support staying in the European Union are those that drive me to support a continuing partnership across the UK.

"Scottish Labour must face square on the growing divergence between the politics of Scotland and the rest of Britain.''

She added: "Scottish Labour must serve Scottish voters first.

"Kez has been right to say she will work in tandem with the First Minister in the best interests of Scotland and get the best deal possible.

"She must be unafraid if that puts her at odds with other parts of the Labour movement.''

Better Together described itself informally as "Project Fear'' during the independence referendum, in reference to the campaign's focus on the risks of taking Scotland out of the UK.

The "Project Fear'' tag was subsequently co-opted by the EU Leave campaign to belittle Remain's warnings about the risks of taking the UK out of the EU.

Leading Eurosceptic Boris Johnson has declared "Project Fear is over'' after Chancellor George Osborne said the emergency post-Brexit budget he warned of ahead of the referendum is unlikely to happen until a new prime minister is in place in the autumn.

In response, Ms Sturgeon wrote on Twitter: "Indeed, Boris. Project Farce has now begun - and you are largely responsible.''