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Scotland split on 2023 independence referendum, says new poll

Support for independence is completely split down the middle
Support for independence is completely split down the middle

A new poll has found Scottish voters are completely split on whether or not an independence referendum should be held next year.

The Panelbase poll for The Sunday Times suggests the country is locked in a constitutional stalemate with 44% of voters opposing Nicola Sturgeon’s calls for IndyRef2 to take place on 19 October 2023.

However it found 43% were in favour of the proposed referendum date.

The poll also found support for independence is slightly ahead on 48%, compared to 47% being in favour of the union.

The first minister says the results of the poll shows a “surge” in support for independence and is “very encouraging”.

Everything down to the campaign

Pollster Mark Diffley said because it is so tight, a marginal swing on either side of the debate will decide the outcome of any independence vote.

Speaking to The Sunday Show, Mr Diffley said: “Everything will come down to the campaign – how good those campaigns are, how they speak to people, their positivity or negativity.

“That is what will really count.

Pollster Mark Diffley

“Because the polls are so tight at the moment, if we get into a campaign a marginal swing in either direction will make the difference.”

He added: “This poll puts support for independence slightly ahead of support for the union.

“A poll during the week put support for the union slightly ahead of support for independence.

“In my world, the world of statistics, what we have got is a statistical dead heat.

“We’ve got two sides running 50/50 on this, the country absolutely in deadlock and split down the middle.

“I suspect until we have a campaign it probably won’t move by a significant amount.”

Sturgeon: Poll shows ‘surge’ in support

Following Ms Sturgeon’s announcement of plans to hold IndyRef2 in October next year, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC has gone to the Supreme Court to find out whether or not the Scottish Government has the legal powers to do so.

The Panelbase poll found 48% of voters believe the Supreme Court will rule against the Scottish Government on this, with a further 76% of voters believing Prime Minister Boris Johnson will block a referendum as well.

The SNP say they will fight the next general election as a de facto referendum on independence if this happens.

Ms Sturgeon has said the poll results show the SNP is “within touching distance” of getting a majority in the general election if it does become a de facto referendum.

Her deputy Keith Brown MSP added: “The momentum is with the Yes campaign, and support for independence is only likely to grow further when we debate its merits and when the alternative is a broken, failing, corrupt Westminster system.”

The SNP has also since launched a drive to get as many people as possible registered to vote for the proposed 2023 referendum.

Greens support de facto referendum calls

Other parties in Scotland however are split on whether or not the next general election should be a de facto referendum on independence.

Co-leader of the Scottish Greens Patrick Harvie said his party would fight that election on the single issue of independence should the calls for a referendum be blocked.

When asked on The Sunday Show if he would ditch all campaigning on key green issues such as the climate emergency, Mr Harvie said their campaign for be on the Green vision for independence.

He said: “Now we have a path we can move onto the campaign and set out how the UK Government is aggressively undermining the devolution settlement.

“If they do continue to refuse to accept that we will go to the court to take the referendum forward without it.

Patrick Harvie MSP, co-leader of the Scottish Greens

“And if the answer is still no we will use the following UK election as the only ability to put the question to the public.

“We have a very clear, Green offer which is distinct on what kind of independent Scotland we want.

“It would set out very clearly our Green vision for an independent Scotland.”

Sarah Boyack MSP, Scottish Labour’s constitution spokeswoman, said Mr Harvie’s interview shows the Greens are “more than happy to drop their environmental priorities” to focus on independence.

She called his remarks a “betrayal of the thousands of environmentalists who oppose the break-up to the UK”.

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, also said the SNP could learn lessons from his party’s decision to use the last general election to campaign to halt Brexit.

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

He said that was not the right call for the party to make and said the SNP would “lose control of that narrative”.

Meanwhile Alex Salmond from the Alba Party said there is little chance of the UK Supreme Court “protecting Scottish sovereignty” and is “certain” Boris Johnson will also refuse a referendum.

He added: “If all else fails then it is perfectly legitimate to use a democratic election to progress the independence case instead of a referendum.”

DEREK HEALEY: Summer of independence approaches, but are we talking about the wrong things?

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