Blow for SNP’s independence hopes despite poll lead

The majority of Scots do not want another independence referendum for at least five years according to a new survey.

The poll gives the SNP a 19-point lead over the Scottish Conservatives, but shows that less than a third of Scots want another vote in the near future.

The Survation poll of more than 1,000 people in Scotland found that 32% never want another referendum, while a further 28% would not want a rerun of the 2014 vote before 2024 at the very earliest.

If the results of the survey were reflected in the next Scottish election, due to be held in 2021, there would continue to be a pro-independence majority for the SNP and Greens in Holyrood, and Labour would remain in third place.

The poll, commissioned by the Daily Mail, suggests that 43% of voters would back the SNP in the constituency vote, ahead of the Tories on 24% and Labour on 22%.

In the 2016 election, the SNP won 63 of the 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament but would, according to the poll, be on course to lose four.

Despite the apparent lack of support for another referendum in the near future, and Theresa May’s spokesman saying the UK Government’s position has not “changed one bit”, the SNP’s depute leader Keith Brown welcomed the findings and said independence was more popular than any Brexit deal.

Mr Brown said: “Support for independence is now higher than backing for any kind of Brexit – which is why the Tories are running scared of giving people a say on their future because they fear they would lose.

“This poll shows a big majority of people support an independence referendum and no wonder, when the Westminster system is clearly broken.”

SNP conference
The SNP’s depute leader Keith Brown said there was more support for independence than Brexit (Jane Barlow/PA)

Commenting on the SNP’s poll lead, he added: “People in Scotland are better off with the SNP, which explains this strong poll showing.

“By contrast, the poll makes dismal reading for the Tories and other Westminster parties who are out of touch and in chaos over Brexit.”

In response, Pamela Nash, chief executive of campaign group Scotland in Union, said: “More than half of people in Scotland do not want a divisive second independence referendum for at least a decade, and Nicola Sturgeon must listen to what people are telling her.

“The SNP Government has a duty to serve everyone in Scotland, not just the minority who want to leave the UK.

“It’s clear that the Nationalists’ attempts to weaponise Brexit in the hope of boosting support for separation is failing, and the First Minister should do the right thing and take the irresponsible threat of an unwanted second independence referendum off the table.

“By remaining part of the UK we are stronger together, keeping the pound and building a successful future based on our shared culture and history.”