Nearly two-thirds of Scottish voters do not want a referendum on independence this year, according to a new poll, despite the shockwaves caused by the UK’s vote to leave the EU.
A new survey for Glasgow’s Herald newspaper, found 61.5% of Scots were against a second referendum this year, with 38.5% in favour.
That comes against a backdrop of Prime Minister Theresa May triggering Article 50, beginning the Brexit negotiations, by the end of March.
Those talks will last a maximum of two years, seeing Britain – which includes Scotland, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland – leaving the 28-member bloc by 2019.
In 2014, ahead of the shock Brexit referendum, Scotland voted narrowly 55-45% to stay part of the United Kingdom.
The Herald poll found those numbers had not shifted, with 45.5% of voters now favouring independence, and 54.5% against.
That will come as something of a blow for Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose Scottish National Party rules the devolved Assembly in Edinburgh.
Sturgeon has described Brexit as making a second referendum “highly likely”, although she has also – against the wishes of the more diehard members of her party – suggested holding off until public opinion is firmly in favour of independence.
Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, but was defeated by the nation-wide vote, and is now pushing to be at the negotiating table during the Article 50 talks.
An SNP spokesman told the Herald: “It can’t be right to sit back and accept everything this increasingly right-wing Tory Westminster government wants to do to Scotland no matter the cost to our economy, public services and living standards.”
Although opinion on the merits of an independent Scotland is fairly evenly split, the rejection of a second referendum during 2017 could just be fatigue from a series of polls in Scotland – the 2014 referendum, 2015 general election, 2016 Scottish elections and 2016 Brexit referendum.
Younger voters are 51% in favour of independence, whilst 75% of those over 65 are against. The opinion poll, carried out from December 9-13, surveyed 1,002 Scots.
A Scotland that voted for independence would then be free to apply to join the EU, although it would face objections from at least Spain, which would see it as setting a possible precedent for an independent Catalonia.
However, not all SNP voters are automatically pro-EU. At a series of briefings with SNP politicians before Christmas, euractiv.com was told that there is a substantial minority of independence voters who are also antipathetic to Brussels – although the party was attempting to discern exactly what percentage this would be.