Any chance of a Brexit has been put at risk as the people of Scotland are overwhelmingly in favour of staying within the EU, while the English are marginally in favour of leaving, a new poll has found. A spokesman for the Scottish National Party (SNP) has insisted that “it is essential that Scotland’s voice is heard.”
A Panelbase survey for the Sunday Times has found that 66 per cent of Scots want to remain within the EU, while 51 per cent of English people would like to see Britain exit the bloc. Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the SNP and Scotland’s first minister has previously indicated that a vote to leave the EU would constitute a “material change of circumstances”.
She has also said that a Brexit vote that didn’t have Scottish support would be problematic. Last year’s vote on the matter saw 55 per cent of Scots vote to stay within the United Kingdom. Although she has promised to hold a constructive role in the debate, she has also called for a “double lock”, requiring the assent of all four nations before Britain left the EU.
SNP Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins MP said: “With the unprecedented democratic mandate the people of Scotland have given the SNP, we will provide a distinctively Scottish voice in the EU referendum debate, setting out the positive case for Scotland’s place within the European family of nations,” the Daily Record has reported.
He added: “The EU referendum jeopardises our place in Europe – but now that it is going ahead, it is essential that Scotland’s voice is heard.
“Our common sense amendment for a double-majority safeguard will ensure Scotland cannot be ripped out of the EU against its will. This – along with votes for EU nationals and 16 and 17-year-olds – must be included in Westminster’s EU Referendum Bill.
“Failure to do so means the Bill clearly fails to meet the gold standard set by Scotland’s independence referendum.”
The results of the survey show that positions on the Brexit broadly align with party allegiance. Ivor Knox, the managing director of Panelbase said: “While attitudes toward EU membership appear to be radically different in Scotland compared with the rest of Great Britain, they are actually closely aligned with party allegiance both north and south of the border.”
“In each area, two-thirds of Labour voters favour remaining in the EU, while Conservatives narrowly oppose it, with Lib Dems and Ukip heavily pro- and anti-respectively. The overall difference is a consequence of the divergent political landscapes — a Conservative-dominated England as opposed to nationalist-led Scotland where SNP voters are almost identical to Labour on this issue at least, with 68% pro-EU.”
The poll also revealed that the SNP is on track to win next year’s Scottish parliamentary elections, making a second referendum possible. A senior party source last week confirmed that a second referendum remains an option, with a Brexit constituting an obvious trigger.
John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said the implications could be enormous: “In those circumstances all bets on whether there would be a second referendum and what the outcome might be would be off — certainly it is not just Britain’s membership of the EU that is at ‘risk’ from the EU referendum, but also the future of the Union.”
Following Labour’s Scottish wipe-out in the general election earlier this year, they now face a second substantial loss at Holyrood, Edinburgh the seat of the Scottish Parliament. The SNP remain on course to take a commanding 53 per cent share of the vote in the constituency element of next year’s election, while Labour are far behind on just 22 per cent, the Conservatives on 15 per cent, Lib Dems on 5 per cent, Greens and Ukip each on 2 per cent with others on 1 per cent.
In the regional vote the SNP is on 48 per cent, Labour on 21 per cent, the Conservatives on 15 per cent, Greens on 6 per cent, Lib Dems on 5 per cent, and Ukip and others each on 2 per cent.
One senior SNP source said: “Last year’s result was not a particularly decisive one and it would certainly not be inappropriate to ask people about independence again in future.
“No decision has been taken yet about another referendum but the scenario where another one could occur as a result of the UK voting to leave the EU against the wishes of people in Scotland is the illustration Nicola has always used and she would not rule that out.”