Westminster EU stance strengthening Yes support as new poll shows No vote slipping

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  By Martin Kelly 
 
Support for Scottish independence would be neck and neck with those in favour of remaining within the Union if Westminster adopts an anti-EU stance according to a new poll.
 
A survey conducted by Panelbase on behalf of the Sunday Times has shown both the Yes and No campaigns on 44 per cent each if the UK’s EU membership looked to be under threat from growing Euro scepticism south of the border.

In a further boost to the Yes campaign, the poll also indicated support for a No vote was down on its March level even without the EU concern.  The latest poll has 44 per cent support for a No vote, which is 2 per cent down on a similar poll carried out by Panelbase in March.

The Panelbase survey asked 1004 Scots their views on Scottish independence and found the gap had narrowed from ten per cent in March, to only eight per cent in May.

Support for a Yes vote remains firm with the March figure of 36 per cent repeated in this latest poll.

The key finding of the poll suggests undecided Scots are tending to move to Yes if the debate centres on the EU membership of an independent Scotland.  The results follow an increase in right wing anti-European sentiment in England which has resulted in an increase in support for the ultra-right wing UKIP party.

The rise in support for UKIP has dominated headlines in England and has led to increasing calls for an in/out referendum.  David Cameron has come under pressure from backbenchers and Cabinet Minister’s over the issue with several saying they would support the UK pulling out if a referendum were held right now.

The SNP has highlighted the growing calls for EU exit from Westminster as proof that only a Yes vote can secure Scotland’s continued membership.

The debate over EU membership has dominated the independence debate for several months with those opposed claiming that Scotland would be thrown out of the EU and forced to re-apply, perhaps being forced to join the euro.

However recent comments from several constitutional experts including a former Irish PM, have backed the Scottish government claims that a newly independent Scotland would be able to negotiate its continued EU membership from within the EU.

Last week former Irish Prime Minister, John Bruton backed Alex Salmond’s timetable for securing membership of the European Union ahead of its target date for independence in March 2016.

Responding to the new survey, the SNP said that only a four per cent swing was now needed to ensure a Yes vote in 2014.

MSP Clare Adamson, who is a member of the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee said:

“This is an extremely welcome and significant poll, which shows that the headline gap between Yes and No is now down to just 8 points – meaning that a swing of just over 4% would put Yes ahead.

“And plans for the UK to exit Europe change the terms of the debate – putting Yes and No neck-and-neck at 44% – because the Westminster system getting dragged along by a UKIP agenda underlines that it is out of touch with Scotland.  It shows that only a Yes vote puts the people of Scotland in charge of our own future.

“Confirming the outcome of last week’s STV debate between Nicola Sturgeon and Michael Moore, the poll demonstrates that as the debate moves onto substance – and between the two futures facing Scotland under either Yes or No – people are moving towards the positive case for an independent Scotland, and rejecting the scaremongering of the No campaign.”

Commenting on the party ratings, which place the SNP on exactly the same level of support which delivered the 2011 landslide election victory, Clare Adamson MSP added:

“These are fantastic poll ratings – six years into government and the SNP still have the same level of support as our majority-winning landslide of 2011.

“The SNP are continuing to deliver on the priorities of the people on the economy, health, education and justice, and we have a positive vision for Scotland’s future.  We trust the people, and will continue to work hard so that the people continue to place their trust in the SNP Government.”