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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Scottish support for independence drops, poll shows

Scottish support for independence has fallen four percentage points, probably due to divisions among Scottish nationalists, but 47% of Scots still support breaking up the United Kingdom by going it alone, a poll indicated on Thursday.

A Savanta ComRes poll for The Scotsman showed 47% would vote for independence and 42% would vote against, up 4 percentage points, with 10% still undecided.

Scottish nationalists are pushing for an independence referendum to be held after this May’s Scottish parliament election, but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said such votes should happen only once in a generation.

Alongside polling on independence support, the survey found that Scottish Conservatives had gained popularity while there was greater support for both Johnson and the British government.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been accused by her predecessor and mentor, Alex Salmond, of misleading parliament over the government’s unlawful investigation of sexual harassment claims against him.

She has denied misleading parliament. Salmond was cleared by a jury at Edinburgh’s High Court of all sexual assault charges.

“That kind of division could perhaps make people think twice about independence and whether or not the SNP can be trusted ultimately to have a united front when it is needed the most to get independence over the line,” said Chris Hopkins, political research director at Savanta ComRes.

In a referendum in 2014, Scots voted 55%-45% to remain in the United Kingdom, but both Brexit and the British government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis have bolstered support for independence among Scots.

If Scots voted to leave, it would be the biggest shock to the United Kingdom since Irish independence a century ago – just as it grapples with the impact of Brexit, a move that Scotland’s voters strongly opposed.

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