Pre-election, Scots were divided over Scottish Government’s course of action if UK Government refuses a second referendum

A majority of those who would vote No to independence thought that in this situation the Scottish Government should accept another referendum cannot be held in the next five years, while over half of Yes supporters thought that the Scottish Government should take legal action against the UK Government.

The author(s)

  • Emily Gray Managing Director, Ipsos MORI Scotland
  • Rachel Ormston Research Director, Ipsos MORI Scotland
  • Catriona Millar Ipsos MORI Scotland
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An Ipsos MORI poll conducted before the election found that in the event that the UK Government refuses to allow a second referendum on Scottish independence, Scots were split on what course of action the Scottish Government should take. It should be noted that the question asked Scots what they thought the Scottish Government should do if the SNP won a majority of seats at the election but the UK Government refused to allow another independence referendum. The SNP came one seat short of winning the 65 needed for a majority, although there is now a larger majority of MSPs from pro-independence parties elected to Holyrood (72 of 129) than in 2016, when 69 of the 129 MSPs elected were from pro-independence parties.

41% said the Scottish Government should accept another referendum cannot be held in the next five years, while 32% said they should take the UK Government to court to try and establish a legal basis for a referendum. 16% said Scotland should hold the referendum anyway, without the consent of the UK Government.

Results are broadly similar to when Ipsos MORI last asked this question in February. This suggests that nothing in the election campaign moved Scots’ views on this issue significantly.

Views on what strategy the Scottish Government should adopt varied substantially between those in favour of independence and those against. 76% of those who would vote No said the Scottish Government should accept that a referendum cannot be held in the next 5 years – compared with 7% of those who would vote Yes who say this. Among those who would vote Yes to independence, 56% favoured the legal route – though 29% favoured a ‘wildcat’ referendum without UK Government consent. 15% of No voters favoured either the legal route (10%) or a wildcat referendum (5%).

What should happen if the UK Government refuses to allow another independence referendum? Ipsos MORI

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

Recent comments from Michael Gove suggest that the UK Government’s position on a second referendum on Scottish independence remains unclear. These results show that if the UK Government were to refuse a second referendum, Yes and No supporters were sharply divided pre-election on what course of action the Scottish Government should take – although it should be noted that they were asked about the best course of action in the event of a majority for the SNP rather than a majority for pro-independence parties. There was very little change in people’s views since Ipsos MORI previously asked this question in February. The key question now is whether this continues post-election or people’s views on a second independence referendum change further under the new reality.

Technical note

  • The question wording asked about the course of action ‘if the SNP wins a majority of seats’ at the election. The SNP won 64 of 129 seats, one short of the 65 seats required for a majority.
  • Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,502 adults aged 16+ across Scotland.
  • Interviews were conducted before the election by telephone, from 30 April – 3 May 2021.  
  • Data are weighted to the profile of the population.
  • Where results do not sum to 100%, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of “don’t know” categories.
  • All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. On the basis of the historical record of the polls at recent general elections, there is a 9 in 10 chance that the true value of a party’s support lies within 4 points of the estimates provided by this poll, and a 2 in 3 chance that they lie within 2 points.

 

The author(s)

  • Emily Gray Managing Director, Ipsos MORI Scotland
  • Rachel Ormston Research Director, Ipsos MORI Scotland
  • Catriona Millar Ipsos MORI Scotland

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