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UK faces ‘existential challenge’ after support for Scottish independence and Irish reunification reach highest ever

22 Sep 2022 3 minute read
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture by Jane Barlow / PA Wire.

The UK faces an “existential challenge” a senior political scientist has said after a new report showed that support for Scottish independence and in Northern Ireland for Irish reunification are at their highest ever.

Prof. Sir John Curtice said that the latest publication of the British Social Attitudes survey showed that Brexit had created divisions about the governance of the UK across the nations.

The British Social Attitudes survey, which is in its 39th edition, showed that support for being part of the UK in Northern Ireland had slipped to slightly below half at 49%, while support in Northern Ireland for Irish reunification has increased from 14% in 2015 to 30% now.

Meanwhile, 52% in Scotland favour independence, the highest ever number found by the survey. This is up from 23% in 2012, when the UK government agreed to the independence referendum that was held two years later.

The report drew on the Scottish Social Attitudes and Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, and carried out additional pan-UK polling in addition, but did not poll Welsh independence.

It found that Brexit has played a role in shifting attitudes towards the constitution, with some Remain voters reacting to leaving the EU by now wanting to change the rules under which the UK is governed.

65% of Remainers in Scotland now back Scottish independence, up from 44% in 2016.

In 2016, 64% of people in Northern Ireland who voted Remain were in favour of being part of the UK. Now only 37% are.

The BSA report noted: “Since 2014, there has been a marked increase in the level of support for independence, and especially so since the EU referendum of 2016, after which leaving the UK became more popular than devolution for the first time.

“Against this backdrop, it is perhaps not surprising that Scotland’s constitutional status should have become an issue of lively debate once more.

“The Union has certainly become decidedly less popular north of the Border.”

‘Wider story’

Senior political polling expert Prof. Sir John Curtice said that the aim of the survey was to track long term changes in attitudes towards constituational change.

“This is not asking if Scotland should be an independent country yes or no, it is this long-term question, and the point about that, therefore, is we can show how attitudes have shifted over a long time period,” he told the National Scotland.

“The 52% is as high as it has been on that question.

“The fact that half the people in Scotland might want to leave the United Kingdom does pose the United Kingdom a bit of an existential challenge.

“The point is what has been happening in Scotland is not unique to Scotland, and in a sense, shows it is part of a wider story which shows how Brexit has created divisions about the governance of the UK that go beyond Scotland.”


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Erisian
Erisian
7 days ago

Must be that catchy little slogan about taking back control coming home to roost 😀

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
7 days ago

On 31/1/20 at 2300 hours, Farage was addressing his rally of flag waving Britnats in Westminster at the moment of departure from the EU. Most of the people interviewed on leaving the rally spoke of the ‘freedom’, ‘independence’ and ‘taking back control’ of ENGLAND. It was all about England. That moment laid bare what Brexit was all about. Why it is taking the rest of us so long to wake up is beyond me. I hang on to the words of Sion Jobbins at a Yes Cymru event when he said when, not if, Scotland goes independent, watch it go… Read more »

Arwyn
7 days ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Spot on. They leveraged English exceptionalism and the sense of greivance in post-industrial areas and harnessed that to the anti-EU propaganda of the right wing tabloids. The very class of people responsible for creating poverty in the first instance did that. And in the process they made the people to whom they sold their lies even worse off. The Scots get it. The people of Ulster get it. The people of Wales are waking up to it. Old allegiences are breaking one by one like the threads of a rope. The Tory party think the answer to a fraying rope… Read more »

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
7 days ago

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! Looks like Brex**it has backfired on the Tory Muppets 😂😂🤣🤣 Thanks for giving Celtic Nationalists trapped in the UK what we all want 👍🏻😁

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
7 days ago

Chronic inequality in the UK, which will never be addressed by Westminster, will eventually split the country. The countries on the periphery, ie Wales, Scotland and Ireland, are more socialist than England, They believe in a balanced socialistic/capitalist economy that also benefits our society, whereas recent English governments now just believe in a market economy, with the hope of trickle down benefits. It doesn’t work. It is inequality, from this trickle down policy, that drove people to vote leave. They were told it would lead to a better future. That the EU was to blame for their woes not 40… Read more »

Last edited 7 days ago by Steve Duggan
Arfon Jones
Arfon Jones
7 days ago

We can expect more royal visits then as the natives become increasingly restless.

Even the coronation could be moved to coincide with and undermine the Scottish referendum.

Ceramike
Ceramike
7 days ago

The trend towards the break up of the UK and the growing calls for independence are clear for all to see. It is also clear that Brexit has further destabilised the union and has failed to improve the situation of those who in desperation voted leave. Although the survey does not include Wales there is no doubt that the support for independence has noticeably grown. The high handed approach of the Conservative Government, its trampling over of devolution and the democratic choice of the people of Wales has furthered the cause of independence. If there is a real wish to… Read more »

Arwyn
7 days ago

The other thing about stirring up English Nationalism is that growing numbers of English people want an English Parliament. The UK is being torn in all directions. Now, if Welsh, Scottish and Irish MP’s no longer sit at Westminster because they sit in the Parliaments of their own respective Nation States, England will have an English Parliament. QED. I’m quite up for a “Council of the Isles” for the purposes of cross-border cooperation or pooling sovereignty in given areas where mandated but it has to happen according to democratic consent. Not where Tories with no mandate to govern Wales unilaterally… Read more »

Marc
Marc
7 days ago

Can someone at Nation Cymru have a word with your web designer and have them change the design of the voting buttons so they actually work.
My apologies to Fi yn unig for disliking your post. I was trying to press like!

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
6 days ago
Reply to  Marc

Just press the up-button twice and, hey presto! A like.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
7 days ago

Perhaps this should be a wake up call to those of our Welsh comrades who want to remain part of the UK. Voting Tory will push the Union to splinter simply because Tory ‘Muscular Unionism’ agravates so many people not to mention failing to provide the support that the nations actually deserve. Is it coming down to simple slogans like “Want the UK then vote Labour, want Indpendence then vote Plaid”. Of course this weekend’s Labour Conference may alter that slogan if the Members vote for electoral and constitutional reform. However, the ‘inner circle’ usually manage to undermine such terrible… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
6 days ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Judging by past actions of Labour MP’s here ,who strongly opposed devolution, to the point of telling people that devo would result in bloodshed and ethnic cleansing, ( check out former Labour MP Kim Howells) I very much doubt significant change will occur, if they have any say in it, as on each vote many of them have opposed devolution from the very start..

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 days ago

If Scottish independence & Irish reunification was a temperature, it would be currently at boiling point. And with the English Conservatives threatening the devolved nations
right to self-rule will only further fan the flames of change.

We in Wales must also prepare for the inevitable when Scotland becomes an independent and Irish reunification. At present we Welsh are in a national stupor thinking it will never happen. We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand without any contingency plans. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Richard
Richard
6 days ago

Jacob R M , Lord Jac Frost and gang will have to realise that their antics and pontifical attitudes are responsible for this ……..and the harvest will soon be ready 🤞

The original mark
The original mark
6 days ago

Was this survey just about Scotland and the North of Ireland no mention of Wales, or aren’t we seen as a problem as long as Labour are in control?

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
6 days ago

The summary of the survey, which is to be found here [https://www.bsa.natcen.ac.uk/media/39480/bsa39_broken_britain.pdf] has a section on independence in Ulster and Scotland but does not mention Wales. Of course my quick scan has not yet identified the distribution of the respondents across the four nations. However the report sections all do seem to be silent on what people in Wales think. I have written to ask if Wales was covered too.

Last edited 6 days ago by Peter Cuthbert
Rob
Rob
6 days ago

So what happens to us in Wales once Scotland and Northern Ireland have left? A Kingdom of England and Wales, no thanks.

David Smith
David Smith
6 days ago

Did trade, family ties, cultural ties and untold other things that bind dissipate when the Irish Free State left the Union? Honest question. From my perspective all that went was the assymmetric relationship (eventually), and snivelling before the Brit Royals. Why of God’s earth would it be different if Wales and Scotland left this godforsaken ‘union’?.

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