5 Oct 2015

Brexit and Scottish independence

The British Election Study team has just produced its latest polling on the two unions, Europe and the UK, and how opinion is shifting and shaping.

Below is the breakdown for the in/out support in a chunky poll of the UK (3,500 people in England, 1,000 respectively in Scotland and Wales) conducted 9-16 Sept 2015:


The BES team find a massive correlation between strong sense of English identity and likelihood to back Brexit. The same people in the poll who want English Votes for English Laws usually want Brexit and worry about immigration.

Their evidence raises many issues including whether the Conservatives will embrace English nationalism ever more strongly in coming years. But in terms of the EU referendum this poll underlines one of the difficulties for the out campaign.

They’re enjoying watching a narrowing of the polls at the moment and enjoying the frustration of in campaigners who complain about the prime minister and other senior Tories refusing to back their cause until the negotiation is finished (Some signs of movement on this and word from certain cabinet ministers that they are being encouraged to talk up the positives of Europe).

But they are aware of another lurking issue which is made privately to them by traditional Tories, like Margaret Thatcher’s biographer Charles Moore: isn’t there a strong chanceĀ  that Brexit leadsĀ  to Scottish independence? How can a self-respecting unionist risk that?

The no campaign insists its polling suggests opinion in Scotland is tighter and more up for grabs than the BES survey indicates. A Brexit result would, they argue, show Scotland voting similarly to England.

But this poll suggests they may be over-stating that UK-wide homogeneity of view. A few more polls like the BES one and the Brexit component of the referendum could become a big component of the debate.

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