28 - 03 - 2019 / Update
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE EU WILL BE A CRUCIAL FACTOR IN A SECOND INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM
POLLING ANALYSIS BY MARK DIFFLEY
Since June 2016, politics across the UK has been dominated by the issue of Brexit. It is therefore unsurprising that, on the day that the UK had been due to leave the EU, new polling highlights the pivotal role that the issue of EU membership and Brexit is likely to play in any future Scottish independence referendum.
Progress Scotland’s new poll of more than 2,000 people in Scotland makes for interesting reading in understanding how voters view the relationship between Brexit and independence.
The importance of the EU as an issue which drives opinion on independence has doubled; 22% of voters put EU membership in the top two or three issues which determined their vote in 2014. Now, that figure is 43%, making it the single most important issue for voters in another referendum.
The poll provides further evidence of how the issue of the EU might impact on voters who have no firm position on the independence question.
The poll suggests that this cohort of ‘open-minded’ Scots has both strong views on the EU and is reassessing its views on independence in light of the Brexit debate.
So, when polls measuring the Yes/No spilt show opinion at around where it was in 2014, it is clear that many Scots are viewing independence differently as a result of Brexit and, furthermore, may well change their voting intention once the impact of Brexit is clearer.
In addition to Brexit affecting their personal views on independence, the majority of Scots in this ‘open minded’ cohort agree with the statement that ‘Brexit makes Scottish independence more likely’; around two-thirds support that statement, rising to three quarters (74%) of those who voted ‘No’ in 2014, adding to impact that the issue appears to be having on public thinking on independence.
Of course, the continued lack of clarity around when and how the UK will leave the EU, means that it is sensible to anticipate a fluidity to public opinion on this issue.
However, this research provides evidence that Brexit, and Scotland’s relationship with the EU is likely to play an increasingly important part in any future independence referendum. The views of ‘open minded’ Scots on this issue will require particular attention and understanding from those trying to win their support.