Nicola Sturgeon grilled on independence by Andrew Marr
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Scotland’s Government will storm ahead with plans for a second referendum on independence from the UK next year, the country’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday. The Scottish National Party leader challenged the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and said she would not allow him to block a referendum. Analysts are deeply sceptical about the possibility of holding a referendum in the next two years given a drop in support for independence in the last year. But what do the latest polls reveal?
Nicola Sturgeon addressed the nation on Monday after six new cases of the Omicron Covid variant were identified in Scotland.
However, allaying concerns and implementing restrictions to curb the spread of the new variant were not the only topics on her agenda.
She used a keynote speech at the Scottish National Party Conference to make her case for an independent Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon reassured the party they would have an opportunity to hold a referendum vote by the end of 2023.
The Scottish First Minister said: “Next year, COVID permitting, as we emerge from winter into spring, the campaign to persuade a majority of people in Scotland that our future will be more secure as an independent nation will resume in earnest.
“In the course of next year, I will initiate the process necessary to enable a referendum before the end of 2023.”
She told SNP delegates she would “defy anyone to look at the broken, corrupt, self-serving Westminster system that we are currently part of and conclude that it provides a secure basis for the future of Scotland”.
In addition, the SNP leader vowed she “would not be discharging my duty to the people of Scotland if I did not seek to keep the promise on which we were elected – to offer the people of Scotland the choice of a better future through independence”.
But will people back an independence bid?
A Survation poll published on November 25 found 54 percent are against another referendum on independence being held in the next two years.
More people (59 percent) are also in favour of remaining in the UK, while 41 percent are in favour of leaving, according to the poll of 1,045 Scottish residents aged 16 and over.
This was an uplift of two percentage points for team Remain, with a loss of two percentage points for team Leave compared to the September poll, conducted from November 18 to 22.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “A majority do not support her timetable for a divisive second referendum, and growing numbers of voters favour remaining part of the UK.
“She should drop plans for another referendum and focus on what really matters – the NHS, Covid recovery, jobs, and the climate emergency – rather than obsess about her negative campaign to divide Scotland’s communities.
“Scotland has a positive future as part of the UK, where we bring people together, look outwards to our friends and neighbours, and leave no community behind.”
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In a poll published on November 8 by Redfield and Wilton Strategies, 26 percent of the British public said they believe Scotland should be an independent country.
Respondents aged 35 to 34 were most likely (32 percent) to back independence, while those aged 65 and over were most likely (65 percent) to back remaining in the UK.
A total of 47 percent of the 2,000 adults polled said they did not believe Scotland should be an independent country, while 27 percent said they did not know.
In Politico’s poll of polls for a potential second referendum, 48 percent are unwilling to back an independence bid as of November 22.
This compares to 44 percent who are in favour of a second referendum on independence, leaving nine percent undecided.
Polling about Scottish independence by Redfield and Wilton Strategies for Politico published in September found Scots believe, by a narrow margin, the power to hold a referendum should lie in Westminster.
Forty-three percent of the 1,000 Scottish voters polled said they agreed that Scotland should only hold a second independence referendum if the U.K. government agrees to it, while 38 percent disagreed.
Overall, 47 percent backed Scotland remaining in the UK while 44 percent said they wanted independence.
The Scottish First Minister accused Mr Johnson’s Government of “actively eroding the power of our democratically elected Scottish Parliament.”
She claimed it “reflected in the Tories’ wider disdain for democracy”.
Ms Sturgeon added: “During the run-up to the independence referendum in 2014 the head of the No campaign dismissed the idea of Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister as a scare story.
“We’ve been reminded over these past few weeks – and in many different ways – just why anti-independence leaders were so keen to rubbish the prospect of Boris Johnson entering Downing Street.
“The much bigger problem is a Westminster system that enables someone like him to become Prime Minister in the first place.”
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