The Scottish Saltire flag flies next to the British Union Jack flag with the London Eye wheel seen behind in London, Britain July 29, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
LONDON (Reuters) – Scottish voters would vote for independence from the United Kingdom, according to a poll by Michael Ashcroft, the first major published survey to show a lead for independence since March 2017.
Asked how they would vote in an independence referendum, 46% of the 1,019 surveyed voters said they would vote for independence and 43% against. Excluding those who said they did not know or would not vote, this amounted to a lead of 52% to 48% for an independent Scotland.
“In the wake of [Prime Minister] Boris Johnson’s visit to Edinburgh last week I polled Scots to measure support for a second independence referendum and to gauge opinion on independence itself,” Ashcroft, a Conservative who opposed Johnson’s leadership, said.
“I found a small majority in favour of a new vote – and the first lead for an independent Scotland for more than two years,” he said.
Scots rejected independence by 55 to 45 percent in a 2014 referendum but differences over Brexit have strained relations with the government in London.
The 52-48 vote to leave the EU in a 2016 referendum strained ties between the constituent parts of the United Kingdom: while Wales and England vote to leave, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay.
The Scottish National Party (SNP), which runs the devolved government in Edinburgh, says that a second independence referendum is justified as Scotland is now being dragged out of the bloc against its will.
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden