Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
by Jenni Davidson
30 January 2020
Eve of Brexit opinion poll finds majority of Scots in favour of independence

Yes rally - Image credit: PA

Eve of Brexit opinion poll finds majority of Scots in favour of independence

A majority of Scots are now in favour of independence, according to an eve of Brexit opinion poll.

But the poll also found that most Scots do not want another vote on independence in 2020 or 2021.

The YouGov poll found 43 per cent in favour of independence compared to 42 per cent opposed, with the remaining 15 per cent saying they didn’t know or wouldn’t vote.

When the don’t knows are removed this equates to 51 per cent Yes and 49 per cent No.

The support for independence came despite the poll also finding that a more thought independence would be bad for the economy than good for it, with not having to implement policies decided in London and staying in the EU the top two reasons given as advantages of independence.

This is the first time a YouGov poll has recorded a majority in favour of independence since 2015, but a similar poll conducted by Lord Ashcroft Polls in August 2019 also put independence in the lead by 46 per cent to 43 per cent – the first major lead for independence since an Ipsos MORI poll in 2017.

The move from No to Yes in the current poll can be put down to Brexit, with more than one in five Remain-voting Scots who voted No in 2014 now switching to Yes.

In addition, half of those who did not vote at one of the two previous referendums have also switched to Yes.

On the other side, three in ten of those who voted Leave in the Brexit referendum and Yes in 2014, now say they will vote No.

However, because the Remain group is more than twice as big as this Leave group, this represents a net movement towards ‘Yes’.

But although they favour independence, the poll also found the majority of Scots are against holding a referendum within the next two years.

Fifty-six per cent said they do not want a referendum this year, compared to 34 per cent who do, while a majority are also against an independence referendum next year, even if the SNP win a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament election.

However, 44 per cent of the Scots polled want to vote on independence within the next five years compared to 39 per who do not.

When it came to trust in leaders from both sides of the independence debate, the poll found that an equal number – 46 per cent either way –  trusted and did not trust Nicola Sturgeon, while a majority of don’t knows for Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard suggests the public does not know enough about them to form an opinion.

The most popular unionist politician is still Ruth Davidson, with 31 per cent trust, while only 18 per cent said they trusted Boris Johnson and 71 per cent that they do not trust him.

Commenting, SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “Brexit, and the chaos of Westminster under the Tories, make it abundantly clear that Scotland should be an independent country.

“This key poll, published just before Scotland is dragged out of the EU against our will, shows that the momentum is well and truly behind the campaign for independence.

“No wonder the Tories are running scared.

“People in Scotland must now have the chance to control their own future.”

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “The fact that this poll shift has happened as Scotland is taken out of the European Union is no coincidence.

“People in Scotland can see there is a route back to the European table through independence, and they can see that Green politicians and others across the continent would welcome an independent Scotland taking its place among other smaller progressive countries.

“The Scottish Greens will be marking Brexit day with a rally for our Green Yes campaign, and this opinion poll is a great base to start from.

“We will be campaigning to convince as many as possible that a road back to the EU is possible and that independence can have a real purpose, helping us build a new, just and sustainable Scotland.”

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Jenni Davidson - The Holyrood baby: More likely to live in poverty now than the day she was born.

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox


Popular reads
Back to top