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‘Even an appetite for an independence vote in Wales’, says LBC radio host

25 Jan 2021 4 minute read
The second National March for Welsh Independence July 2019, Caernarfon, Gwynedd. Picture by Llywelyn2000 (CC BY-SA 4.0).

An LBC radio host has said that “even in Wales” there’s an appetite for an independence vote, during an interview with a politics professor.

Presenter Andrew Castle made the comments while interviewing Professor John Curtice of University of Strathclyde, amid revelations that suggest that the UK is heading towards breakup.

Polling has suggested that a majority in Scotland want an independence referendum in within the next five years, and that the figure is at 31 per cent in Wales. It was also revealed that a majority in Northern Ireland want a referendum on reunification with the Republic.

According to Professor Curtice, this means that “support for the union rests on rather a shaky peg.”

The polling in Wales put support for independence at 23 per cent, with 52 per cent against, and those who don’t know on 11 per cent. If the don’t knows were removed, this would put support for independence at around a third.

Mr Castle said that “even in Wales there seem to be an appetite for a vote” to which Professor Curtice replied it was true “to a degree”.

Professor Curtice said: “Support for independence in Wales has been running between 20 and 25 per cent in polls that have begun to be taken regularly during the course of the last two years. Today’s poll essentially confirms that figure.

“England is perfectly clear that it wants the union to stay together, a majority would be upset Scotland or Wales were to leave maybe not quite so concerned about Northern Ireland.

“Wales is not quite so keen, but frankly still very clearly for the most part minded to say that the union is the better option.

“In contrast in Scotland and in Northern Ireland this poll confirms the evidence of other polls that support for the union rests on rather a shaky peg.

“Today’s poll is actually the 19th in a row in Scotland to suggest that supporters for independence now outnumber supporters for the union.

“It’s not quite at that position in Northern Ireland but again this is not the first poll to suggest that support for the union is only a little bit higher than support for unification with north.

“In both in Scotland and in Northern Ireland again this is not the first poll to suggest that people are thinking that maybe it is time for the issue to be revisited.

According to Professor Curtice, people’s sense of identity is playing a big role in now they feel about independence and Irish reunification.

‘Different views’

He said: “Clearly we wouldn’t be having this debate at all but for the fact that in Northern Ireland one half of the community feels Irish and the other half feels British, and in the wake of that they have very different views about how they would like to be governed.

“Equally what is also crucially true is that in Scotland, not many people deny that they are British, but that it’s very clear that for most people in Scotland feeling Scottish is their predominant sense of identity and it dominates it, where as Britishness is more common and important to people, certainly in England and to a considerable extent in Wales.

“So but for the sense of identity and therefore because of your sense of identity, this has implications for how you think you should be governed and if you feel Irish you will probably prefer to be part of a united Ireland and if you feel Scottish, in recent years people have been more likely to come to the conclusion that maybe that therefore maybe we should be running independently.

“That said, certainly so far as leaving is concerned, if you want to kind of find the argument that certainly at the moment still has least resonance for people in Scotland it is, ‘would the economics work in our favour?’.

“You’ve got more people saying that Scotland would be financially worse off leaving the union than saying they would be financially better off.

“But that does need to be appreciated against the fact that if you ask people both in Scotland and in Northern Ireland whether or not they’re going to be better off or worse off as a result of the UK leaving the European Union, you get an even more negative response.

“The truth is that Brexit has to some degree changed the terms of the debate.”

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