Sturgeon’s independence dream in tatters as support for Scexit and SNP plummets

In a major humiliation for the First Minister, keeping Scotland in the UK was in the top five of voter priorities, edging out Scexit while Scots predict major problems in the event of separation from the UK


Nicola Sturgeon with her local lieutenants Martin Docherty Hughes and Brendan O’Hara.

By Bill Heaney

The Scottish Daily Express is reporting that Nicola Sturgeon’s bad year has gotten worse as new polling suggests support for Scexit and for the SNP overall has plummeted.

The SNP had been buoyed by a series of polls toward the end of 2022 which suggested a lead for the ‘Yes’ side in a hypothetical indyref2.

Those results came after the Supreme Court ruled Holyrood did not have the right to hold a legal vote, but it seems that was little more than a temporary blip as Scots have gone back to the Union in 2023.

The latest polling from Lord Ashcroft of 2,000 Scots suggests the country would vote 56 per cent to 44 per cent in favour of the UK.

And in a further blow to the SNP leader, just 40 per cent are likely to back her party in the next general election, which Ms Sturgeon is pushing as a ‘de facto’ poll on breaking up the UK – down from the 45 per cent who voted SNP in 2019.

The de facto referendum plan itself has little support, with only 21 per cent of Scots agreeing with it and a massive 67 per cent saying the First Minister “cannot assume that ever vote for the SNP and Greens is a vote for Scottish independence”.

The survey also suggests the SNP government is out of step with the public. In a further humiliation for Ms Sturgeon, keeping Scotland in the UK has emerged as a bigger priority for voters than taking Scotland out of the Union.

While the NHS, cost of living crisis and the economy are the top three priorities for voters, they believe the SNP are focusing on Scexit and gender reform with just 22 per cent saying they think the NHS is a Scottish Government priority. On the issue of gender reform, half of Scots think the UK Government was correct to block the law compared with 33 per cent who didn’t.

Only a fifth of voters think the standard of living would rise in an independent Scotland while 57 per cent think food prices would increase, 64 per cent think taxes would increase and 41 per cent believe unemployment would increase. And 62 per cent of voters predict an independent Scotland would need to make “painful cuts” in public spending.

However, there was some better news for Ms Sturgeon as she narrowly pipped Gordon Brown to the title of Scotland’s most popular political figure.

Reacting to the poll, Lord Ashcroft said: “Much of Sturgeon’s success lies in her skillful positioning as a powerful voice for Scotland against an indifferent or hostile Tory Westminster. In the row over the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, that strategy has backfired.”

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