Scottish Support for Independence Slips, Poll Shows

February 11, 2021 Updated: February 11, 2021

LONDON—Scottish support for independence has fallen 4 percentage points, probably due to divisions among Scottish nationalists, but 47 percent of Scots still support breaking up the United Kingdom by going it alone, a poll indicated on Feb. 11.

A Savanta ComRes poll for The Scotsman showed 47 percent would vote for independence and 42 percent would vote against, with 10 percent still undecided.

Scottish nationalists are pushing for an independence referendum to be held after Scottish Parliament elections in May, although British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said such votes should happen only once in a generation.

Alongside polling on independence support, the survey found that Scottish Conservatives had gained popularity while there was greater support for both Johnson and the British government.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been accused by her predecessor and mentor, Alex Salmond, of misleading Parliament over the government’s unlawful investigation of sexual harassment claims against him.

She has denied misleading the government. Salmond was cleared by a jury at Edinburgh’s High Court of all sexual assault charges.

“That kind of division could perhaps make people think twice about independence and whether or not the SNP can be trusted ultimately to have a united front when it is needed the most to get independence over the line,” said Chris Hopkins, political research director at Savanta ComRes.

In a referendum in 2014, Scots voted 55 percent to 45 percent to remain in the UK, but both Brexit and the British government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis have bolstered support among Scots for independence.

If Scots voted to leave, it would be the biggest shock to the UK since Irish independence a century ago–just as it grapples with the impact of Brexit, a move that Scotland’s voters strongly opposed.

By Guy Faulconbridge