Brexit fuelling growth in support for Scottish independence, analysis indicates


The pursuit of Brexit is undermining support for Scotland remaining in the UK, analysis of a study examining public opinion across the country has found.

Before the pandemic, all of those who shifted towards a pro-independence view had positive opinions of the EU, according to the research.

Professor Sir John Curtice and Ian Montagu also found most Scots are pessimistic about the consequences of Brexit.

New Year Honours List 2018
New Year Honours List 2018

The Scottish Centre for Social Research analysed data from Scottish Social Attitudes surveys conducted over the past several years.

The results of the 2019 survey were released at the end of September this year, covering the period between April 2019 and March 2020.

Of those who would vote Remain in another EU referendum, support for Scottish independence has gone from 44% in 2016 to 57% in the latest survey.

In contrast, among people who would vote Leave in another EU referendum, the proportion backing independence has fallen over the same period from 45% to 39%.

The survey also found 18% believe the UK’s economy would be better off in the wake of Brexit, while 43% feel Scotland’s economy would improve under independence.

Some 51% listed their “constitutional preference” as independence, while 36% backed devolution and 7% backed having no Scottish Parliament.

University of Strathclyde professor Sir John said: “For a while after the EU referendum, it looked as though the lack of support for Brexit in Scotland was failing to move the dial on public opinion about independence.

“Over time, however, the pursuit of Brexit has weakened many people’s views of the merits of the union.

“For a significant body of people in Scotland, independence inside the EU has now come to look more attractive than being part of a UK that is outside the EU.

“That may not have been either the wish or the intention of those who have advocated leaving the EU but that does not mean that they can afford to ignore the apparent consequences.”

The 2019 survey found 54% of those polled believe Scotland’s voice in the world would be stronger as an independent country, while 15% felt Brexit would lead to the UK having more global influence.

Meanwhile, 25% of people in Scotland felt that being part of the EU undermines the UK’s distinctive identity, while 62% feel that an independent Scotland would have more pride in itself.

Mike Russell with poster
Mike Russell with poster

Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Mike Russell said: “This survey shows that there has been a fundamental shift in the national mood in Scotland in favour of independence.

“The people of Scotland overwhelmingly reject Brexit and the narrow, isolationist stance of Boris Johnson’s Government and believe Scotland will prosper as an independent country.”

He added: “The Tories have removed Scotland from the EU against our will and are now, unbelievably, threatening to impose a disastrous hard Brexit in the middle of a pandemic and economic recession.

“As an independent member of the EU we will be an equal partner with our friends in the rest of the UK and Europe.”