Support for Scottish independence lower than at 2014 referendum, poll shows

Mark Chandler
Nicola Sturgeon: Independence bid: PA

Support for Scottish independence is lower than the last referendum in 2014, according to a new poll.

The Panelbase survey for The Sunday Times and LBC was conducted in the days after Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to push for a second referendum.

It puts backing for independence at 44 per cent, one point lower than when the question was put to Scotland two-and-a-half years ago, while a majority (56 per cent) would vote to remain in the United Kingdom.

The poll of 1,008 voters in Scotland was conducted between Monday and Friday following confirmation from Ms Sturgeon that she will seek permission to hold a second vote on the issue.

Ms Sturgeon told delegates at the SNP conference in Aberdeen she was willing to negotiate "within reason" on the timing of any ballot after Theresa May dismissed the call saying "now is not the time".

The poll suggests a majority of Scots agree with the Prime Minister, with 51 per cent saying they do not want another referendum to take place in the next few years.

Almost a third (32 per cent) supported having a referendum in the next year or two while the Brexit negotiations are ongoing, while around 18% backed another ballot about two years from now when negotiations are complete.

However 44 per cent said they expected one to take place within the next five to 10 years, up six points since Panelbase asked the question in January, and nine points since last September.

John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, told the newspaper: "The First Minister has not had any success at all in reducing the level of opposition to holding any kind of referendum in the wake of Brexit.

"The Yes side still has considerable ground to make. More time to argue her case might, in truth, be just what Nicola Sturgeon wants."

Meanwhile a poll for The Independent found that 44 per cent of respondents in Scotland agreed with the statement: "Theresa May should insist that any second Scottish referendum on independence takes place only once Britain has concluded the process of leaving the EU."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that Nicola Sturgeon was "hell bent" on destroying the United Kingdom and described Brexit as "this week's excuse" for another independence referendum.

Ms Davidson said: "The SNP is not Scotland and they are acting against the majority wishes of the people of Scotland in putting forward their proposition on Monday.

"I've read far too many headlines saying, 'Scotland reacts X, Scotland reacts Y'. No, it doesn't.

"There are people right across Scotland, many, many thousands of them, that are so thankful for the Prime Minister to say let's take a pause on this."

She said it was "astonishing" that the SNP had not outlined a plan for independence during their spring conference in Aberdeen over the weekend.

Ms Davidson added: "We have asked basic questions on things like currency, on things like a central bank, on things like whether we would even rejoin Europe as a full member, and Nicola Sturgeon seems unable to commit to that."