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Scottish independence

Polls point both ways as confusion reigns

Bruce Crawford

Bruce Crawford: support (photo by Terry Murden)

 Opinion polls today give contradictory messages on Scotland’s constitutional future, and will only fuel uncertainty and confusion over the political direction of the country.

A ScotCen Scottish Social Attitudes poll claims the “highest ever level of support for Scottish independence” and “overwhelming support for independence among younger voters.”

However, a YouGov survey claims that support for remaining in the United Kingdom is at its strongest for two and a half years. A Survation poll also puts support for the union in the majority.

The first poll, described as a “highly respected academic survey”, claims 46% support for independence and 72% among those aged between 16 and 24.

This prompted SNP MSP Bruce Crawford to say: “It is no surprise that more and more people in Scotland are now supporting independence as the promises made to Scotland in 2014 are systematically unpicked by the UK Tory government.”

One headline today….

 

…while another reports a different outlook

However, the survey also shows a growth in euroscepticism in Scotland. It shows that two thirds of Scots either want Britain to leave the EU or for the bloc to have reduced powers.

Ms Sturgeon is reported to be softening her demand for Scotland’s direct entry to the EU in favour of trying to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), whose members include Norway and Iceland.

This would help placate the 400,000 who backed independence in 2014 but also voted to leave the EU in last year’s referendum.

The Scottish Conservatives said the SNP’s plans had “unravelled within 24 hours” in “total confusion”.

Adding to the confusion, a YouGov survey, found that 57% of Scots voters backed staying in the UK. It said the 14-point gap between those wanting to stay in the UK and those wanting to leave was last reported in August 2014, just ahead of the referendum.

The contrasting results will only add to the chaos surrounding British politics, unleashed by the Brexit decision and the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second referendum on independence.

Public scepticism of any opinion polls is likely to remain high in light of recent polling history, including catastrophic failures to accurately predict the outcome of the EU referendum and US presidential election.

The polls come as Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to trigger Article 50 to begin Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

Separately, the SNP’s Europe spokesperson said a leaked UK government document claims Parliament will need to pass seven bills to prepare the UK for leaving the European Union.

Stephen Gethins MP said: “This leaked document paints a bleak picture of the chaos at the heart of the UK government.

“We have seen utter confusion from the Tory party right to the very top with the Prime Minister. Theresa May can no longer expect to blindly push the UK to the brink with clouded rhetoric on a hard right Brexit.

“It is increasingly clear that the Tories are planning to use Brexit to undermine and roll back devolution by taking control over EU powers that should go directly to Scotland and Wales.

“During the EU referendum the Leave campaign explicitly said that powers over agriculture and fishing would go to Holyrood and not Westminster – but now the Tories are refusing to confirm this.

“We in the SNP have been very clear that we wanted to see much more detail and reassurance about what happens next than we have received, and as the First Minister made clear yesterday this is not the situation in which we wanted to find ourselves in, but a second independence referendum will provide the people of Scotland with an informed choice.”

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