Half of the UK public say the UK Government should allow another Scottish independence referendum if the SNP win a majority

Over half expect the UK will not exist in its current form in a decade – with the public in Scotland and Northern Ireland particularly likely to say this.

The author(s)

  • Emily Gray Managing Director, Ipsos MORI Scotland
Get in touch

In a new UK KnowledgePanel survey by Ipsos MORI, half of the UK public (51%) believe the Scottish National Party should be allowed to hold another independence referendum if they win a majority of seats in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections. Four in ten (40%) say the UK Government should not allow this.

Views on a second Scottish Independence Referendum - Ipsos MORI Knowledgepanel

 

Support for holding another referendum is highest among those in Northern Ireland (66%) and Scotland (56%), while a majority of those in England and Wales also believe the SNP should be able to hold another referendum (51%).  

Half of the UK public would prefer Scotland to vote against becoming an independent country if another referendum was held while 17% would prefer them to vote for this. Opinion is split in Scotland - 46% would prefer their country to vote against independence while 45% would prefer Scots to vote for it. Those in England and Wales are most likely to want Scotland to vote against leaving the UK (51% and 57% respectively).

Four in ten (41%) of the public across England, Wales and Northern Ireland would feel sad if Scotland did vote to leave the UK while 38% say it would make no difference to them. Only 7% say they would be happy. Those in Northern Ireland are significantly more likely to say they would feel happy should this be the outcome; a quarter say they would be happy (24%) and 29% say they would be sad, although most (38%) say it would make no difference to them.

Feelings towards an independent Scotland - Ipsos MORI Knowledgepanel

 

Looking to the future, over half (53%) expect the UK not to exist in its current form in 10 years’ time, with those in Scotland and Northern Ireland more likely to say this (61% and 59% respectively). Over a third (35%) expect the UK not to exist in its current form in five years’ time – rising to 45% of those in Scotland.  

Six in ten (59%) of the UK public believe the UK will become weaker if Scotland decides to leave, while only 11% believe this would make the UK stronger. Half (48%) believe it would make England weaker while 60% predict it will make Scotland weaker.

Emily Gray, Managing Director of Ipsos MORI Scotland, said:

The Scottish Parliament elections on 6 May look set to be a critical point in the future of the Union. Should the Scottish National Party win a majority of seats, as looks likely if current levels of support hold, it will be much more difficult for the UK Government to refuse a second referendum on independence. And these figures suggest that on balance, the UK public are on board with that course of action - more believe that the UK Government should allow a second referendum in the event of a SNP majority than say it should not.

 

Technical note

This data has been collected by Ipsos MORI’s UK KnowledgePanel, a random probability panel which provides gold standard insights into the UK population, by providing bigger sample sizes via the most rigorous research methods

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 8,558 people over 16 in the UK. Interviews were conducted online from 1 to 7 April 2021.  

Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.

The author(s)

  • Emily Gray Managing Director, Ipsos MORI Scotland

More insights about Public Sector