A record number of people now support Scottish independence from the United Kingdom, a new poll has found. According to an Ipsos MORI survey released on 14 October, only 42 percent of respondents want to remain in the United Kingdom, while 58 percent believe it’s high time for Scotland to secede from the UK and become an independent state.
"Our latest poll will put a spring in the step of nationalists but makes grim reading for unionists. The Scottish public have shifted even further towards supporting an independent Scotland, with record numbers now saying they would vote 'yes'", said Emily Gray, the managing director of Ipsos MORI Scotland.
In the 2019 general election, the now governing Scottish National Party campaigned on a promise to hold a second referendum on independence in 2020. According to the Ipsos MORI survey, 72 percent of those surveyed are satisfied with the SNP’s performance, which Emily Gray says will boost calls for secession.
One of the reasons behind the public’s support for independence is how Scottish authorities have handled the coronavirus pandemic. A poll conducted in July showed that 40 percent of those surveyed believed that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had dealt with the issue very well. Meanwhile, only 6 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with how UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had handled the task.
Brexit and Second Referendum
In 2014, 55 percent of voters voiced their desire to stay in the United Kingdom. The independence referendum was dubbed a "once in a generation" vote, but two years later Britain held a referendum on leaving the European Union, in which Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain in the bloc, whereas the UK as a whole voted to leave.
This prompted Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP to push for a second independence vote, arguing that the circumstances had changed since Britain decided to withdraw from the European Union.
In recent years, the support for Scottish independence has risen to levels not seen since the 2014 referendum. According to The Times, this has thrown senior cabinet ministers into "panic mode" and prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to visit Scotland in July 2020. During his visit, the prime minister highlighted the benefits of the 300-year-old union and said Britain’s power and magic would be lost if Edinburgh decides to leave. At the same time, Johnson, who in January rejected a request to hold a second referendum, said this is not the right time for Scotland to vote on its independence given the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing Brexit negotiations.