Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon’s plans to hold a second referendum on leaving the United Kingdom have suffered a blow after polls show barely a quarter of voters back the proposed ballot.
According to the Kantar Scottish Opinion Monitor, only 26 per cent of Scots want another separation referendum between the Autumn of 2018 and Spring 2019.
The Daily Mail reports the poll also showed a drop in support for leaving the United Kingdom overall, with 60 per cent opposed a breakup and 40 per cent in favour – a statistically significant fall from the 45 per cent support which Sturgeon’s predecessor Alex Salmond was able to garner in 2014.
Previously, the first minister had said she would not consider a second referendum unless polls demonstrated significant and consistent support. An SNP spokesman had said: “There will only be a second referendum on independence if there is clear evidence of a shift of opinion.”
Nicola Sturgeon has, however, attempted to play down any link between her party’s fortunes in the snap election and her mandate for a second referendum, called in response to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in June 2016.
“The election won’t decide whether or not Scotland becomes independent,” she told the Scottish Trades Union Congress. “We got a mandate for a referendum in the election last year so this is about Scotland’s voice is heard and Scotland’s interests are protected.”
Responding, Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs said: “There is one cast-iron rule about the SNP: whenever it says something has got nothing to do with independence, it’s a sure-fire way of knowing it has everything to do with independence.”
The Scottish Conservatives are currently on course to capture around ten seats from the SNP – a huge boost for the party, which was wiped off the Scottish electoral map in 1997 and has never managed to return more than one Scottish MP since.