- Boris Johnson’s unpopularity in Scotland is driving voters to back Scottish independence, according to new polling on the prospect of a new referendum.
- A large majority of swing voters said Boris Johnson being the leader of their country was a persuasive argument for independence.
- Boris Johnson has refused to grant Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, an independence referendum.
- But the prime minister may find it increasingly difficult to deny the Scottish government an independence referendum if support for independence continues to increase.
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Boris Johnson’s unpopularity in Scotland is driving voters to back Scottish independence, according to fresh polling on the prospect of a new referendum which paints a grim picture for unionists.
A survey of Scottish voters carried out by polling firm JL Partners, and first reported by Politico, found that the most persuasive argument for independence among swing voters and undecided voters was: “Boris Johnson is not the leader I want to have for my country.”
79% of those voters agreed with that statement.
The survey of 1,016 voters was carried out in September. It also reflected what appears to be growing support for independence for Scotland, recording 56% support for independence, with 44% opposed.
Other recent polls have also indicated a majority support for independence. An Ipsos MORI poll in published earlier in October, for example, found 58% of voters in favour of independence, with 42% opposed.
The survey could fuel concerns in Downing Street that Boris Johnson’s personal lack of popularity north of the border could be driving support for independence to higher levels.
A net total of 80% of respondents said that Boris Johnson was doing badly as prime minister, compared to 18% who said he was doing well. By contrast, a net total of 73% of voters said Nicola Sturgeon was doing well as Scotland’s first minister, compared to 25% who said she was doing badly.
The prime minister has consistently refused to entertain the prospect of a fresh independence referendum, telling a reporter earlier this year that the poll held in 2014 — in which voters rejected independence — was a “by common consent a once-in a-generation event.”
Nonetheless, Johnson may find it increasingly difficult to deny Nicola Sturgeon an independence referendum if support for independence continues to increase.
Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party also appears poised to win a majority in the Scottish parliament elections next year, with the party enjoying a comfortable lead in the polls, which will increase pressure on Downing Street to grant the country a fresh referendum.
The UK government appears to have become worried about the increasing support for Scottish independence. Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, has reportedly assembled a team of PR experts to try and counter arguments for Scottish independence
Two or more government press officers will work full-time to counter SNP publicity, the Sunday Times reported, while outside experts could also be hired.