Most Scots would back remaining in UK, new poll suggests

By PA Media

Most Scots would vote to remain in the UK if an independence referendum were held tomorrow, a new poll has found.

The survey of 1,015 Scots suggests that 46% would vote against Scottish independence, compared with 43% in favour.

However, when unsure voters are excluded, the poll by Savanta ComRes for the Scotland on Sunday newspaper indicates 52% to 48% in favour of the union.

The poll is the first to be carried out since Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond gave evidence to the Holyrood inquiry into the investigation of the former first minister.

Carried out in the two days after the Sturgeon, the current first minister, appeared before the committee, the survey found 35% of respondents said the inquiry was making them less likely to vote for independence.

Another 16% said the inquiry was making them more likely to vote yes, with 41% saying it had made no difference

According to the poll, 43% said their trust in Sturgeon had fallen as a result of the inquiry.

But trust in Salmond has fallen even further, with 57% of respondents believing him less than before the inquiry began.

The committee on the Scottish government handling of harassment complaints was set up after Salmond successfully challenged the lawfulness of the government’s investigation into him.

The former SNP leader, who led the yes campaign in the 2014 independence referendum, was awarded a £512,250 payout after it emerged the investigating officer was found to have had prior contact with two of the female complainers.

At Edinburgh’s court of session, Lord Pentland described the investigation as “unlawful” and “tainted by apparent bias” after the government conceded the judicial review the week before the case was due to be heard in court.

Chris Hopkins, associate director for Savanta ComRes, 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, its impact on the first minister doesn’t look to be catastrophic – for now.”

The SNP responded, saying: “With Scotland on Sunday/Savanta ComRes themselves stating that this poll is not comparable to previous polls and has not been properly weighted, it should be treated with caution.

“The SNP is looking forward to the election campaign where we will work to win support from across Scotland to continue to protect people from Covid, support Scotland’s NHS, create jobs, and make sure that as we recover from the pandemic, Scotland’s future is decided by the people who live here, not Boris Johnson’s Tory party.

“That is what people across the country are focused on and that is what we will do.”