EXCLUSIVE: Majority of Scots now in favour of independence, finds poll
New polling conducted by Lord Ashcroft finds first lead for independence since March 2017
Image credit: PA
A majority of Scots are now in favour of independence and want a second referendum by 2021, according to a new poll.
Holyrood can reveal that a poll conducted by Lord Ashcroft Polls - days after Boris Johnson, the new prime minister, visited Scotland - puts support for independence at 46 per cent for and 43 per cent against.
Once those who said they didn’t know how they would vote, or said they would not vote, are removed, support for independence rises to 52 per cent for, 48 per cent against.
This is the first lead for independence in a major poll since an Ipsos MORI poll in March 2017 and it is the biggest lead for a ‘yes’ vote since a spate of polls were published in 2016 shortly after the EU referendum.
Almost half (47 per cent) of the Scots surveyed in the poll said that there should be a second independence referendum within the next two years, which fits with the timetable announced by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who has said she wants a referendum by the end of this parliamentary term.
The new poll will be a serious blow for Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, who has repeatedly said that there is no real support for a second independence referendum any time soon.
According to the poll, a third of Labour voters, a majority of EU remain voters and 18 per cent of those who voted ‘no’ in 2014, said they would vote ‘yes’ now.
Conversely, ten percent of those who voted ‘yes’ in 2014 said they would now vote ‘no’.
And even though Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats are both opponents of a second independence referendum, a return to the polls for Indyref2 is favoured by more than one third of 2017 Labour voters, more than half of EU remain voters and by more than one in five of those who voted ‘no’ to independence in 2014.
However, more than 90 per cent of Conservative supporters have said they oppose a second referendum.
Overall, a majority of Scots said that if a second independence referendum were to be held, they believed that Scotland would become independent and only three in ten of those polled – including two thirds of Conservative supporters and fewer than half of ‘no’ voters in 2014 – thought Scotland would vote to remain part of the UK.
Almost half (46 per cent) of Scots agreed with the first minister that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for Scotland and a majority of those polled agreed that Brexit strengthens the case for Scottish independence.
More than 60 per cent of Scots – including 38 per cent of 2017 Conservatives and two thirds of Labour voters – said they think Brexit makes it more likely that Scotland will become independent in the foreseeable future.
More than half of 2014 No voters think this is the case, with 32 per cent of them saying it makes independence much more likely.
According to the poll, more than half said there should be a second EU referendum, with 69 per cent of SNP voters in favour of a second poll, more than half of Labour voters and one in five Conservatives.
If there was a second EU referendum, 67 per cent of those polled said they would vote to remain, which is a rise on the 62 per cent that voted to remain in 2016.
Scottish voters were closely divided as to whether – if it were not possible to do both - it would be more important for Scotland to remain part of the UK or to remain in the EU.
And while 42 per cent said they would prioritise the Union, 45 per cent said they would prioritise the EU.
In terms of the prime minister’s first week in office, half of those Scots polled said they expected him to do badly and a quarter said he had done better than they had anticipated.
One in four Conservative supporters said they had low expectations of Johnson but had been pleasantly surprised.
Compared to other politicians, Johnson ranks relatively low among Scottish voters, although above Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage.
Asked whether Johnson or Corbyn would make the best prime minister, 29 per cent of Scots named Johnson, while 23 per cent said Corbyn.
More worryingly for the Labour leader, fewer than four in ten of 2017 Labour voters said they thought he would make the best prime minister.
The poll was based on a sample size of 1,019, and was conducted online between 30 July and 2 August.
Full data tables for the survey are available at LordAshcroftPolls.com
The elections watchdog has said it would want to consider the wording of the question, even if it was the same one used in 2014
Former Cabinet ministers Dominic Grieve and David Gauke both distanced themselves from the Labour's leader's cross-party call to back him
Opposition party leaders have responded to Corbyn's plans to block a no deal Brexit
The case involves the same group of pro-EU politicians involved in a case at the European Court of Justice