Blow for Nicola Sturgeon as support for Scottish independence plummets
Nicola Sturgeon has been dealt a huge blow after a new poll revealed that support for Scottish independence has plummeted.
The Kantar survey found backing among Scots voters for the break-up of the UK has slumped from 47% to 40% since August last year.
It also showed that nearly half of them do not want a second independence referendum to ever take place.
And barely a quarter of Scots back Nicola Sturgeon's call for another breakaway vote to be held in either spring 2018 or autumn 2019.
The findings come hard on the heels of a Panelbase poll which showed the SNP is on course to lose nine seats on 8 June.
A total of 1060 Scottish adults were asked their views on a second referendum and independence between 29 March and 11 April for the poll.
On whether Scotland should be independent, 37% said yes and 55% said no. But once 'Don't Knows' were stripped out, the split was 60%-40% in favour of remaining in the UK.
Last August, the split was 53% to 47% against independence.
The poll found that 46% are totally opposed to another referendum, with 19% in favour of one being held in autumn next year, and 7% backing one in spring 2019.
Some 11% said they supported having one later in 2019 or in 2020, once Britain has left the EU, while 7% said it should be after 2020.
Significantly, 30% of those who voted Yes at the last independence referendum and Leave in the EU referendum are among those who do not want to see another Scottish poll.
Ms Sturgeon yesterday insisted that the upcoming general election was about protecting Scotland from a Tory government, not independence.
"People who want to make sure that Scotland has strong voices against the Conservatives in this election need to vote for the SNP because that’s what this election above all else is about.
"The election won’t decide whether or not Scotland becomes independent, we got a mandate for the referendum in the election last year. “So this is about whether Scotland’s voice is heard and Scotland’s interests are protected. And there is a clear choice. A vote for the Tories is not some pain-free tactical vote."
Tom Costley, head of Kantar in Scotland, said: “It is interesting to speculate on why there appears to be this weakening in the ‘Yes’ vote, despite Scotland voting clearly in favour of remaining within the EU, which is the stated position of the SNP-led Scottish government.
“The forthcoming local authority elections in Scotland may well provide some pointers as to the extent to which the media criticism of the Scottish government’s performance in areas such as health and education may be having an impact with voters.
“The changing economic outlook in Scotland, particularly in relation to the oil industry, may also have led to voters reassessing independence. Moreover, with Theresa May calling a general election for 8t June, there is the potential for election fatigue with the prospect of an extended referendum campaign too much for the Scottish electorate.”
Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said: “There is no appetite in Scotland for independence and, as this poll shows, there’s certainly no appetite for another vote on it.
“These results should send a very clear message to Nicola Sturgeon - take the threat of another referendum off the table, and focus on the job you were elected to do.”
Scottish Labour general election campaign manager James Kelly said: "This is yet another poll that shows people in Scotland do not want another divisive independence referendum.
"It's time for the Nationalists to focus on the job of governing - like dealing with the crisis in our schools and tackling the problems in the NHS after a decade of SNP mismanagement."