Scottish Independence polls: Could Scotland hold independence referendum & split from UK?

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Scottish independence is a hotly debated topic after an independence referendum held in 2014 saw Scotland remain a member of the United Kingdom 55 percent to 45 percent. Now the latest poll by Ipsos MORI has shown attitudes have changed, with the highest ever recorded support for independence.

The Ipsos MORI poll found 58 percent of respondents were in favour of independence, with 42 percent rejecting the notion.

Almost two thirds (64 percent) of Scots said the UK Government should allow another independence referendum to be held within the next five years should the SNP win a majority of seats in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections.

And just a third (34 percent) said the UK Government should not allow this.

In total Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,045 adults aged 16 and over across Scotland between October 2 and 9.

Read More: End of the UK? Highest EVER recorded support for Scottish independence

Emily Gray, Managing Director of Ipsos MORI Scotland, said: “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.

“Of course we are still a long way out from next May’s Holyrood elections, but SNP support currently looks very strong, buoyed by Nicola Sturgeon’s high satisfaction ratings among Scottish voters.

“Our poll suggests that there will be significant public pressure for the UK Government to transfer powers to the Scottish Parliament to hold a second independence referendum if the SNP win a majority at next year’s Holyrood elections.”

The poll also found overwhelming support for Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, with 72 percent of the Scottish public say they are satisfied with the job she’s doing.

In total 24 percent said they are dissatisfied – giving a ‘net’ satisfaction rating of 49 percent.

The staggering figures also showed three-quarters (76 percent) of Scots are dissatisfied with the way Boris Johnson is doing his job as Prime Minister.

This is the lowest ratings Ipsos MORI has ever recorded for him in Scotland.

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In total 19 percent said they are satisfied with him while five percent don’t know.

Could Scotland hold an independence referendum and split from UK?

Under the Scotland Act 1998, the Scottish Parliament is not allowed to pass legislation pertaining to matters “reserved” to Westminster.

This includes “the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England”.

This is widely interpreted to mean any referendum relating to Scottish independence would require Westminster approval.

However, this has never been tested in court, so there is some uncertainty about whether Holyrood could hold an advisory referendum without consent.

The first independence referendum was held following the UK and Scottish governments signing the Edinburgh Agreement in 2012.

The UK government has repeatedly ruled out the possibility of authorising a second independence referendum.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he would not approve another vote, claiming the issue had been settled in the “once-in-a-generation” vote in 2014.

There had been plans for a second independence vote this year, however, this was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ipsos MORI poll also found the two most convincing arguments in favour of independence relate to Scotland and England wanting different political futures and a lack of trust in Westminster to act in Scotland’s interests.

SNP Deputy Leader Keith Brown said: “This is a landmark poll which shows that independence has now become the settled will of the majority of people in Scotland.

“Faced with the chaotic and incompetent government of Boris Johnson and a Westminster system which treats Scotland as an afterthought at best, more and more people are deciding that the best way forward for Scotland is as an equal, independent country.

“And if there is a clear majority for pro-independence, pro-referendum parties in next year’s election – as this poll shows there would be by some considerable margin – then no Tory or any UK Government has the right to stand in the way.

“Quite simply, in those circumstances, the Tories would lack any moral or democratic authority whatsoever to try and block the will of the people, and it would not stand.”

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