Scottish Public Opinion Monitor – March 2018

Scots are gloomy about Brexit’s likely impact on the economy - but more oppose holding another independence referendum in the next three years than support it.

The author(s)

  • Dr. Emily Gray Managing Director, Scotland
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As the UK government continues its formal negotiations to leave the European Union, Ipsos’s new poll for STV News shows that Scots are pessimistic about the economic impact of Brexit and remain divided on Scotland’s constitutional future.

A majority of the Scottish public (61%) believe the UK’s economy will be worse off as a result of Britain leaving the EU, while just one in seven (14%) think it will be better off. A similar majority (61%) believe Scotland’s economy will be worse off as a result of Britain leaving the EU, with fewer than one in eight (12%) thinking it will be better off.  

Pessimism about the impact of Brexit on the economy is higher among the middle-aged and young than it is among older people – 68% of 35-54 year olds think the economy will get worse, as do 65% of 16-34 year olds, compared with 50% of over 55s. Scottish Conservative voters are much more likely either to say that the UK’s economy will be better off after Brexit or that Brexit will make no difference than are those who support the other major parties. Indeed, just a third (34%) of Scottish Conservative voters say they think the UK’s economy will be worse off as a result of Brexit, compared with around seven in ten SNP voters (73%) and Scottish Labour voters (71%).

The SNP has argued in its 2017 Manifesto that when the final terms of the Brexit deal are known, ‘it is right that Scotland should have a choice about our future’. However, almost half (47%) of Scots oppose the holding of another independence referendum within the next three years, while 41% support it.

Support for holding another independence referendum in the next three years is highest among the young – over half (57%) of 16-34 year olds support this, compared with 43% of those aged 35-54 and 28% of over 55s.

The 41% of the Scottish public who support a second referendum being held within the next three years are split almost evenly between those who say they support this because of Brexit and those who say they already supported it and Brexit has made no difference to their view. Overall this means that one in five Scots (22%) say they support a second independence referendum being held in the next three years because of Brexit, while a further 19% say that they already supported a second referendum and Brexit has not changed their view.

However, independence is still not the preferred option of a majority of Scots. Among those who would be likely to vote in an immediate referendum, 46% say they would support independence, while 50% say they would back Scotland remaining in the UK and four per cent say they are undecided.

Among those who expressed a voting preference and say they would be very likely or certain to vote if there were a UK General Election tomorrow, 39% say they would vote for the SNP, while 26% back Scottish Labour and 25% the Scottish Conservatives. Meanwhile 6% say they would vote for the Scottish Liberal Democrats while 4% would vote for the Scottish Greens.

Emily Gray, Managing Director of Ipsos Scotland, said:

Scots are pessimistic about the impact that Brexit will have on the economy, both here in Scotland and across the UK. However, Scots’ pessimism about Brexit doesn’t appear to be giving rise to a clamour for a second referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future. While 22% of Scots say they support a second referendum in the next three years because of Brexit, there’s still no overall majority in favour of a second independence referendum – our research indicates that opposition to Scotland becoming an independent country remains higher than support for it.
Meanwhile, the SNP continues to have the highest vote share of any political party in Scotland after almost 11 years in government. While our poll was taken in the same week as Scottish Labour’s spring conference in Dundee, findings do not point to a Scottish Labour ‘bounce’ among voters.

Technical note

  • Results are based on a survey of 1,050 respondents (adults aged 16+) conducted by telephone
  • Fieldwork dates: 5th March – 11th March 2018
  • Data are weighted by: age, sex, education qualification and working status using census data; tenure and internet usage, using SHS data; and public-private sector employment using Scottish Government Quarterly Public Sector Employment series data
  • Where results do not sum to 100%, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of “don’t know” categories
  • Results are based on all respondents (1,050) unless otherwise stated.
  • Our sample now includes a small proportion of mobile numbers as well as landline.
  • Likely to vote figures for the general election include those who say they are 9 or 10 out of 10 likely to vote in the general election.
  • Please note that the ‘margin of error’ on these figures is c.+3-5% for each figure. This means that a party share figure of 30% could actually fall anywhere between 26% and 34%, though it is more likely to fall at 30% than at the extreme ends of this range.

The author(s)

  • Dr. Emily Gray Managing Director, Scotland

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