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10th Dec 2022

Scots to back independence, shock poll says

  • Thistle: symbol of Scotland. The poll comes 10 days before the historic vote (Photo: nisibis350)

Scotland is poised to vote Yes on leaving the UK after an opinion poll gave pro-independence campaigners a shock lead.

Just days before Scotland's four million voters go to the polls on 18 September to decide whether to break the 300 year union with the United Kingdom, a survey by pollsters YouGov put the pro-independence 'Yes' campaign on 51 percent and pro-Union supporters on 49 percent.

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The poll, which is the first to put pro-independence supporters in the lead, completes a stunning turnaround which has seen the 'Yes' campaign overturn a 22 percent lead held by the pro-Union Better Together just a month ago.

Last month, Salmond was widely perceived to have won the second televised debate with Labour politician Alistair Darling, the leader of Better Together, and the Scottish first minister.

Salmond has been able to trade on his reputation as Scotland's most popular politician. Although most of Scotland's MPs are held by the Labour party, the YouGov poll found that just one in three Scots have faith in arguments made by Labour politicians Darling and former prime minister Gordon Brown, the highest profile campaigners in the Better Together team.

Meanwhile, Salmond and his deputy Nicola Sturgeon enjoy a trust rating of over 40 percent among voters. British prime minister David Cameron, a Conservative, is trusted by just 23 percent of Scots.

Cameron has faced calls from his party that he would have to resign if the referendum is lost.

The surge in nationalist support has prompted an immediate response from Westminster where the governing Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition, as well as the opposition Labour party, are anxious to keep the Union together.

In an interview on Sunday (7 September ), UK finance minister George Osborne said that ministers would prepare "a plan of action to give more powers to Scotland" in the coming days. The plan would include "more tax powers, more spending powers, more plans for powers over the welfare state".

He added that giving more powers to the Scottish government without formal separation would offer Scots "the best of both worlds".

In an increasingly bad-tempered campaign, Alex Salmond's Scottish Nationalists have faced accusations that they want to take a 'pick and mix' approach to independence, wanting to keep the pound as their currency, along with the Bank of England, as well as Queen Elizabeth as their head of state.

They also claim that Scotland would be able to secure improved EU membership terms by the planned independence date of March 2016.

The European Commission and a host of constitutional lawyers have stated that an independent Scotland would almost certainly have to formally re-apply to join the EU, a process which outgoing president Jose Manuel Barroso has described as "difficult, if not impossible".

However, Better Together has been accused of focusing solely on negative campaigning.

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