Scottish independence: Yes campaign hails 'breakthrough' with polls closer than they've ever been

 

Senior Reporter

The debate over Scottish independence is closer that it has ever been with just over two weeks to go until the vote, according to a new opinion poll hailed as a “breakthrough” by Yes campaigners.

The YouGov survey showed that support for independence has risen by eight points in a month, putting the No camp just six points ahead, down from 14 points in mid-August and 22 points early last month.

When undecided voters were discounted, the poll showed that 53 per cent of those questioned planned to vote No, while 47 per cent said they would back Yes. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, said the results were “very encouraging”, adding: “I have always thought we would win.”

But Downing Street insisted that there would be no change in tactics from the Government. “We have always said from the outset that there is never room for complacency, but of course the only poll that counts is the referendum itself,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

The results of the poll upset currency markets, with the pound falling against the dollar and the euro in nervous trading today. The volatility of the pound is expected to continue in the build up to the vote on 18 September, traders said.

Mr Salmond has insisted that Scotland could continue to use sterling informally even if a currency union was ruled out by the UK Government – a process known as “sterlingisation”. But last night a former EU economics chief said that such an arrangement would not be compatible with European Union membership.

Olli Rehn, who recently stepped down as European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs and the euro, said such a state of affairs would “simply not be possible”.

Video: The Scottish independence debate highlights

In response to a letter from Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, Mr Rehn said: “As to the question whether ‘sterlingisation’ were compatible with EU membership, the answer is that this would simply not be possible, since that would obviously imply a situation where the candidate country concerned would not have a monetary authority of its own.”

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