More than half of Britons believe Scotland should be allowed to hold a second independence referendum within five years if the Scottish National Party wins a majority in the May 6 election, according to a survey by polling firm Ipsos Mori.
The survey of more than 8,500 people is likely to increase pressure on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to rethink his refusal to allow any resumption of the 2014 referendum in which the Scots rejected independence from 55 to 45%.
The Scottish parliamentary elections on May 6 could prove to be a pivotal moment for the UK’s constitutional future, with the SNP on Thursday unveiling of plans for a referendum it hopes to hold out by the end of 2023. Less than a quarter of people polled by Ipsos Mori across the UK said they believed the UK would still exist in its current form within a decade.
Recent polls suggest the SNP is on track to win more than half of Scotland’s 129 seats in the parliament next month, a remarkable feat given its proportional representative voting system. Even if the SNP fails, polls suggest there will continue to be a majority of pro-independence MPs in Holyrood’s chamber in Edinburgh.
Ipsos Mori found that 51% of people across the UK believed the SNP should be allowed to hold another independence referendum during parliament’s next five-year term if the party won a majority in Holyrood. He revealed that 40% believed the UK government should block such a vote.
“If the Scottish National Party wins the majority of seats, as it currently seems likely if current levels of support continue, it will be much more difficult for the UK government to refuse a second independence referendum,” said Emily Gray , Managing Director of Ipsos. Mori in Scotland.
SNP leaders described the 2014 referendum as a ‘once in a generation’ event, but argue that growing support for independence since and the UK’s exit from the EU – in which 62% of Scottish voters opposed – justify a new vote on the constitutional question.
Johnson has repeatedly insisted he will not approve a second referendum, suggesting in January that there should not be one. Until at least the 2050s.
The UK government declined to comment directly on Ipsos Mori’s findings or how he would react to a majority of the SNP, instead insisting that the Scots wanted to see the UK and decentralized administrations ‘work together’ and that the pressure for a second referendum was irresponsible.
“The UK is the most successful political and economic union the world has ever known,” the UK government said.
Ipsos Mori’s survey of his ‘knowledge panel’, which is made up of people randomly selected to be representative of opinion across the UK, revealed widespread uncertainty about the constitutional future from the country.
He found that only 24% believed the UK would exist in its current form in 10 years, compared to 53% who believed it wouldn’t and 23% who didn’t know. Almost 60 percent of those polled thought Scottish independence would weaken the UK, and 41 percent said it would make them “mostly sad”.