Yes gains nullified by the pro-indy Brexiteers
Yesterday, just before the First Minister announced she was going to have a chat with the nation, the Times released a YouGov poll which suggested there was no great post Brexit move to support independence. However, the poll did show that a lot of people have changed their minds.
The most interesting line in the report for me was:
Ms Sturgeon has succeeded in attracting 12 per cent of “no” voters across the constitutional divide, 13 per cent of “yes” voters have gone the other way
It appears there has been a significant shift of No voters moving to Yes balanced out by a shift of Yes voters moving to No.
If you look at the last YouGov poll to ask the question in October last year and compare the results to the current survey we can see the shift is recent. I would say that this is caused by the EU election results causing a real change in how people are thinking about Scottish independence. We know a lot of pro EU no voters are now torn between the two unions as their referendum votes clash. We also know that a lot of independence supporters voted to leave the EU and as such are also conflicted.
The Brexit settlement will be the most important variable for each group of switchers. With no to yes voters it’s difficult to predict. A hard Brexit could keep the former no voters in the yes camp and potentially grow their ranks. Although, a hard Brexit might also bring border controls between Scotland and the UK which may persuade them to head back to the perceived stability of union. This group of voters will be looking to go with the most stable version of the future.
Those who have moved from yes to no will also be looking at the Brexit deal. They know that Scotland should gain some extra powers from leaving the EU as control over competencies like fisheries and farming are not reserved to Westminster and could default to Holyrood post Brexit. If they see Scotland getting more power over its resources they may have a hard time voting yes in a second referendum as this would give that control back to the EU.
This poll is both heartening and challenging as it shows just how up for grabs some independence votes are. It also shows that events outwith most of our control will affect how many people vote in the second referendum.
I think those indy-Brexiteers who have switched from yes to no due to the EU ref are making a fundamental error if, as their previous referendum vote suggests, they are concerned about Scottish people having more control over the fate of Scotland.
We have written about this before but the abridged version is:
- Although the ultimate goal of indy-Brexiteers may be independence outwith the EU, this is not an option on the table at the moment.
- Scotland voted to stay in the EU so those concerned about sovereignty would become hypocrites if they switched from No to Yes and denied the sovereign will of the Scottish people to remain in the EU.
- The current choice is between independence within the EU or dependence within a post Brexit UK. Indy-Brexiteers would be free to campaign for leaving the EU once independent.
- An independent Scotland within the EU is sovereign whilst a Scotland within a post Brexit UK is not.
- Scotland would have much more power if independent within the EU that it would within a post Brexit UK.
If there has been a post Brexit shift between no and yes voters, persuading the indy-Brexiteers to vote yes may be a key area those of us supporting independence need to work on. The detail of the Brexit deal will be a factor but we could also work to drive home the message that independence within the EU offers much more control than remaining in a post Brexit UK.
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