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Poll shows mixed picture on Scottish independence referendum anniversary

Published 18/09/2016

Kezia Dugdale said there should be a renewed focus on the day job from the SNP government
Kezia Dugdale said there should be a renewed focus on the day job from the SNP government

The future of the United Kingdom remains on a knife edge on the second anniversary of the Scottish independence referendum, a poll suggests.

A Panelbase poll for The Sunday Times and LBC puts support for independence on 48%, down four points from 52% in June in the aftermath of the EU vote but up three points from the 2014 result.

Scots also remain split on support for a second referendum and there is no clear support for any of the constitutional options on the table.

Nearly half (46%) oppose a referendum in the next few years, 33% want IndyRef2 before Brexit negotiations have concluded and 21% want a re-run after the Brexit talks.

A third want independence in the EU, more than a quarter (28%) want both EU and UK membership, under a quarter (23%) back remaining in the UK after Brexit and a tenth (11%) want independence outside the EU.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Brexit vote is "probably the most striking and significant instance ever" of the "democratic deficit that Scotland has continually faced".

Writing in the Sunday Herald, she said: "Such a lack of control over our own future should be of concern to everyone - no matter how they voted in June.

"It is a more fundamental challenge to the idea that Scotland's interests can always be best served by Westminster."

She added: "The fact is that every poll on the issue since June 23 has shown support for independence ahead of where it was in September 2014 - and around half have shown an outright majority for independence - and that is before the real impact of Brexit has been felt.

"But more fundamentally, what many observers fail to acknowledge, or even realise, is that what I would term baseline support for independence - now consistently polling in the high 40s and above - is far higher than it was when we began the 2014 referendum campaign."

Former first minister Alex Salmond predicted another independence referendum will be held in autumn 2018.

Also in the Sunday Herald, he wrote: "Our deadwood unionist media (have) wheezed that support for independence was 'only at 48 per cent'.

"Only 48 per cent? When I fired the starting gun on the 2014 referendum support for independence was at 28 per cent!"

He said IndyRef2 cannot simply be a re-run of the 2014 campaign and Scotland should be presented with a range of policy choices such as a choice of currency.

Former Labour first minister Henry McLeish warned Scotland "shouldn't be too eager to have an early second referendum".

He said: "Serious opinion polls have shown little change in the support for independence. There is no clear majority for leaving the Union and certainly not the overwhelming majority the First Minister says she needs before pushing for a new referendum."

He added: "There is no case for an early referendum on independence, so Labour should use the next few years to argue for a credible, sustainable and supportable alternative built around home rule and some form of federalism."

The SNP has launched a "new national conversation" on Scotland's future, with activists being tasked with speaking to two million people before the end of November.

SNP business convener Derek Mackay said: "Every poll conducted since June 23 has shown support for independence ahead of where it was in September 2014 - and that is before the impact of Brexit starts to hit home."

Scottish Conservative economic and finance spokesmen Dean Lockhart and Murdo Fraser have written to the First Minister over what they described as continuing uncertainty.

They wrote: "You as First Minister could provide no greater stimulus to the Scottish economy than to clarify that no referendum will take place."

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: "The in-tray for the SNP government in Edinburgh is overflowing - the attainment gap between the richest and the rest in our classrooms, an NHS in distress, unacceptable levels of child poverty, 150,000 trapped on housing waiting lists and a £15 billion difference between what Scotland raises in tax and what we spend on public services.

"With so many challenges facing Scotland's future, it makes no sense to return to the arguments of our past."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie blasted former prime minister David Cameron over his handling of the independence referendum aftermath.

Speaking to activists at the party's autumn conference in Brighton, he said: "David Cameron says he loved Scotland but everything he did after the referendum in 2014 undermined the Union."

The Scottish Greens used the second anniversary of the referendum to launch a new campaign called No2Yes to encourage No voters who have become independence supporters since 2014 to share their stories.

A spokesman said: "We continue to believe that independence offers the chance to create a more democratic, equal and green Scotland. By giving people the opportunity to share their journey from No to Yes, the Green Yes campaign is once again playing a critical role within the Yes movement."

Mr Rennie said later that the SNP " should never be underestimated".

He said: "They are a massive force. We should never assume that they will go away and give up on independence, which is why I think they should never have been put in charge, that's their sole purpose."

He added: "You don't add chaos on to chaos. You don't respond to the break-up of Europe with the break-up of Britain."

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