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Is there now majority support for independence?

Staying in the UK was the settled opinion of the people of Scotland - but has that view changed?

The Claim:

“Friends, we are in a great moment in Scottish history. Support for independence is

over 50 per cent.”

Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, George Square, Saturday 15th September 2018.

MacNeil made the bold claim that more than 50 per cent of Scots now support independence when playing to the gallery at the rally led by Tommy Sheridan in Glasgow recently. 

As we all know, Scotland voted 55-45 in favour of remaining in the UK just four years ago, and public opinion appears to have been largely static. Brexit prompted some movement, and with confusion over the final deal, perhaps Mr MacNeil has picked up in a subtle shift towards Yes.


The facts

  • The most recent opinion poll put support for Scottish independence at 41 per cent, six points behind No with 12 per cent undecided.

  • Since the 2014 referendum, there have been 82 polls on the Yes/No question - just 12 have put Yes in the lead and the last 27 have given No the advantage, on average by nine points.

  • A recent poll gave Yes a 47-42 lead in the event of Brexit

  • In the 2017 General Election, the SNP’s share of the vote was 36.9 per cent, costing them 21 seats

What the experts say


Professor John Curtice: 


“The Brexit debate has, it seems, had no significant impact (in either direction) on the overall level of support for independence, leaving the challenge facing the independence movement in any second ballot still looking like a formidable one.

“Equally, there is little sign that voters are warming to the prospect of holding a second independence referendum.”

Mark Diffley, polling consultant:


“With the exception of a short-term bump in support for independence immediately after the EU referendum, we are broadly where we were in September 2014, with support for ‘Yes’ at an average 45 per cent in the ten most recent polls.”

Scotland in Union Fact Check Conclusion:

Angus Brendan MacNeil has never been one to let the facts get in the way of a good story and there is nothing to support the claim that support for independence is now in the majority.

Poll after poll has shown No with a healthy lead and the headline figures remain along the lines of 2014. Indeed, the devastating General Election result last year ‘kills Scottish independence dead’ according to polling guru Peter Kellner. To give him the benefit of the doubt, the recent Brexit poll by pro-EU group Best for Britain does show independence in the lead but only in the event of Brexit and once 'Don’t Knows' are stripped out. It remains to be seen what the impact of Brexit will be on public opinion and whether this one poll is an outlier.


Is there now majority support for independence?

Poll after poll has shown No with a healthy lead and the headline figures remain along the lines of 2014, support is definitely not over 50 per cent.



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