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New poll

Support for union grows after Salmond evidence

Salmond-and-Sturgeon

Inquiry evidence has weakened support for independence

A new poll taken after Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond gave evidence to a Holyrood inquiry shows a majority of Scots would vote in favour of remaining in the United Kingdom.

It reveals 46% against independence with 43% supporting separation from the rest of the UK and 10% undecided.

With don’t knows excluded, it suggests 52% in favour of remaining within the union and 48% favouring independence.

The polling conducted by Savanta ComRes for Scotland on Sunday took place two days after Ms Sturgeon’s appearance at the Salmond inquiry into the government’s handling of harassment complaints against the former First Minister

Further polling is expected this week to show a clearer impact of the inquiry on Scottish independence voting intentions.

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Respondents were asked to say what issues were making them more or less likely to vote for Scottish independence. Choices included the Salmond inquiry, the handling of the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out and the pandemic, the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) debate within the SNP, Brexit, and the performance of other political parties.

The Salmond inquiry was identified as the biggest factor, with 35% stating it was making them “less likely” to vote Yes.

However, 16% said the inquiry was making them more likely to vote Yes, with 41% saying it had made no difference in their likelihood to support Scottish independence and 8% stating they did not know.

Despite the SNP pushing Brexit as a vote winner, 26% of respondents said that it made them less likely to support Scottish independence, possibly because of fears of similar problems over future trade with the rest of the UK.

The Scottish Government’s handling of Covid-19 and the ongoing vaccine rollout received positive support (42%) from independence backers.

Associate director for Savanta ComRes, Chris Hopkins, said the impact of the inquiry on the First Minister was not yet “catastrophic”.

He said: “Although awareness of the Salmond inquiry has unsurprisingly increased since December, it’s not to say that the story has had a great impact on its protagonists, with those who say that they trust both Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond more and less now increasing by virtually the same proportions.

“With only a fifth of 2014 No voters less likely to support independence because of the saga, it’s impact on the First Minister doesn’t look to be catastrophic – for now.”

Recent polling has shown support for independence wavering. A Survation poll for the Sunday Mail last month showed voter intentions evenly locked at 50/50 once undecided voters had been removed, and showed support for Scottish independence at its lowest for nine months. It was the first in 22 not to show support in favour of independence.

See also: 244 complaints to BBC over Salmond affair in briefing

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