Fewer than a third of Scots believe an independence referendum should be a priority for the Scottish Government, according to a new poll.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced earlier this month that a draft Bill setting out the proposed terms, timing and question for another independence vote would be introduced before May’s Holyrood election.
That followed a series of polls suggesting a majority of Scots are now in favour of breaking with the union.
But a new survey commissioned by the pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union found 63% do not think an independence referendum should be a priority for the Government.
Of the 1,008 Scots questioned by Survation, 28% said another independence vote should be a priority.
Asked to pick up to three of the most important issues currently facing Scotland, 58% said the Covid-19 response and public health, followed by 50% who chose the NHS and 41% who said social care, economy and jobs.
Constitutional affairs and independence was prioritised by 11% of people, ranking it 10th out of the 16 options, behind other issues such as housing, immigration, education and the environment – but ahead of crime and policing, family life and childcare, and transport.
Among SNP voters in the 2019 general election, 35% said a second independence referendum is not a priority, while 18% ranked constitutional affairs and independence as a top priority for Scotland.
Looking ahead to next year’s Scottish Parliament election, 72% said the debate “should be primarily focused on the economy and public services ahead of other issues such as Scottish independence”.
Scotland in Union chief executive Pamela Nash said: “This poll shows that the SNP has the wrong priorities.
“Rather than obsessing about a divisive second independence referendum, most people in Scotland want their Government to focus on what really matters: our NHS, jobs and schools.
“When barely a quarter of people in Scotland believe another referendum is a priority, it’s time for Nicola Sturgeon to start listening. Even her own supporters are clear that she has her priorities skewed.
“We are stronger together as part of the UK, and as we recover from Covid-19 the Scottish Government has a duty to focus on bringing people together.”
The SNP’s depute leader Keith Brown said: “The focus of the Scottish Government remains on tackling the coronavirus pandemic – but with a Tory Government increasing the threat of a no-deal Brexit and planning an unprecedented power grab on Holyrood, it’s no wonder people in Scotland are demanding the right to choose a better future.
“More and more people are realising that independence will give us the full economic powers we need to chart a proper recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and build a fairer, more prosperous Scotland.
“The No campaign is running so scared of the rising support for independence that they are now trying to scare people away from even having the debate.
“Denying the people of Scotland a choice over our future is a completely unsustainable position.”