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Sturgeon will call for independence referendum in ‘matter of weeks’ as poll suggests 50% of Scots support fresh ballot

Scottish National Party leader presses forward with plan to hold a vote in latter half of 2020

Liam James
Sunday 13 October 2019 13:27 BST
Nicola Sturgeon will call for independence referendum in 'matter of weeks'

Nicola Sturgeon has said she will request consent from the UK government for another referendum on Scottish independence “over the next matter of weeks”, as a new poll finds support for Scottish independence has risen to 50 per cent.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) revealed her request to Downing Street for permission is “coming soon” as she presses forward with plans to hold a vote in the latter half of 2020.

“I’m putting legislation through the Scottish parliament right now, to put the rules and regulations in place,” she said. “It is likely to be over the next matter of weeks. It is coming soon.”

Ms Sturgeon’s comment comes after a Panelbase survey for The Sunday Times Scotland found support for Scottish independence has risen to 50 per cent.

The number backing independence marks a five-point increase on the 45 per cent Panelbase registered on average in its polls last year, which mirrored the 45 per cent yes, 55 per cent no result of the 2014 independence referendum.

The latest poll numbers supporting independence are up on the 49 per cent recorded in the paper’s last poll in June and the figure is a record high for its regular Panelbase polls on the issue.

The survey also found more respondents than not believe the Scottish economy would be better off with independence and remaining in the EU rather than remaining part of the UK after Brexit.

Given a choice between a no-deal Brexit and an independent Scotland, there was a 54-46 lead for independence, up two points since April.

The poll of 1,003 voters in Scotland carried out between Wednesday and Friday found 45 per cent of people believe Scotland will be better off economically as an independent country within the EU rather than staying in the UK after Brexit. Just over a third (35 per cent) disagreed, while one in five (20 per cent) said they did not know.

The findings were released on the morning of the SNP’s autumn conference in Aberdeen, where the party’s Westminster leader is expected to tell delegates Scottish independence will be the focus of any forthcoming general election campaign.

Ms Sturgeon has also told Jeremy Corbyn “don’t even bother picking up the phone” to ask the SNP to support a Labour government unless he backs an independence vote. The SNP leader said she would favour a “progressive type of alliance” if the Conservatives were ousted from power.

She said: “But I say this to Jeremy Corbyn or any Westminster leader who’s looking to the SNP for support, if you don’t accept Scotland’s right to choose our own future at a time of our own choosing, don’t even bother picking up the phone to me.”

At the conference, Ian Blackford, leader of the SNP in the Commons, will say that retaining the party’s majority of Scottish seats at Westminster will reaffirm the mandate to hold another referendum on Scottish independence.

The latest poll indicates large gains for the SNP at the next general election, with the party on 39 per cent, up one percentage point since June.

The Conservatives are also predicted to gain at 21 per cent, up three percentage points since June, while Labour are on 19 per cent, up two.

The Liberal Democrats are unchanged on 13 per cent and the Greens unchanged on 2 per cent, while the Brexit Party was on 5 per cent, down four percentage points since June.

Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said the Conservatives face losing more than half of their Scottish seats.

He calculates the SNP will win 48 seats – up from 35 at the 2017 general election – with the Scottish Tories falling from 13 to five, Labour from seven to one, and the Lib Dems rising from four to five.

With additional reporting from PA

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