Nicola Sturgeon's independence vote timetable call backed by only a quarter of Scots, poll finds

Katrine Bussey
22 per cent of those who voted for independence in 2014 would now vote No, according to poll: PA

Only a quarter of Scots support Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second independence referendum to be held between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, a new poll has indicated.

Just 26 per cent of those questioned backed that timetable while 46 per cent stated there should not be another vote on leaving the UK at all.

The research in the Kantar Scottish Opinion Monitor also said there appeared to be a "weakening" in support for independence, with 60 per cent backing staying in the UK while 40 per cent want Scotland to leave, when undecided voters were excluded.

The figure puts support for independence below the 45 per cent that was recorded in the independence referendum in September 2014.

A total of 1,060 Scots aged 16 and above were questioned for the research, which took place between 29 March and 11 April — after the First Minister had announced her plans to hold another ballot on independence.

Almost half (47 per cent) of those who voted Yes in 2014 want a second referendum to be held by spring 2019 but, in contrast, 72 per cent of No voters indicated they did not want there to be another vote.

While 52 per cent of those who backed the SNP in the 2016 Holyrood elections wanted a fresh independence referendum, the research also indicated one in five SNP supporters from that election are against another vote.

Tom Costley, head of Kantar in Scotland, said: "One group of particular interest is those who voted Yes in the 2014 independence referendum and then voted Leave in the EU referendum - one in three (30 per cent) of this group do not want a referendum at all, possibly suggesting that leaving the EU was their primary goal and at the time Scottish independence seemed the best way to achieve this.

"It is a cautionary reminder that the positive feeling towards the EU expressed in the EU referendum doesn't necessarily translate into full support for independence for Scotland."

Seven out of 10 Scots said they would be certain to vote if another independence referendum is held — with 55 per cent of this group saying they would vote to stay in the UK while 37 per cent would vote Yes and 8 per cent said they did not know.

The figures mean that 22 per cent of those who voted for independence in 2014 would now vote No, according to Kantar, while 8 per cent of No voters from 2014 have switch to being independence supporters.

Mr Costley said: "It is interesting to speculate on why there appears to be this weakening in the Yes vote despite Scotland voting clearly in favour of remaining within the EU, which is the stated position of the SNP-led Scottish Government.

"The forthcoming local authority elections in Scotland may well provide some pointers as to the extent to which the media criticism of the Scottish Government's performance in areas such as health and education may be having an impact with voters.

"The changing economic outlook in Scotland, particularly in relation to the oil industry, may also have led to voters reassessing independence."

Scottish Labour general election campaign manager James Kelly said: "This is yet another poll that shows people in Scotland do not want another divisive independence referendum.

"It's time for the Nationalists to focus on the job of governing - like dealing with the crisis in our schools and tackling the problems in the NHS after a decade of SNP mismanagement.

"Voters can send a message to Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland is divided enough, we don't need any more division.

"When people go to the polls for the council elections on 4 May and the general election on June 8, they can vote Labour to elect a local champion; or they can vote SNP to elect a candidate who will only focus on another divisive referendum."

An SNP spokesman said: "We already know that 60 per cent of people think Theresa May and the Tories are wrong to try and block Scotland having a choice on its future - and most recent polls show support for independence on a knife-edge.

"But this is a Tory party that now thinks it can do what it wants to Scotland and get away with it.

"As we face the prospect a hard-right Tory government, with a bigger majority, only the SNP will stand up for Scotland and provide the strong opposition needed."

Press Association