Nearly half of English oppose Scottish independence - poll

Alex Salmond gives an autograph Opinion was evenly divided as to whether there should be a UK-wide referendum

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Almost half of people in England do not want Scotland to become independent, a poll suggests.

The ComRes survey for BBC's Newsnight and Radio 4's World at One found 48% of voters in England wanted Scotland to remain within the United Kingdom.

If Scotland voted for separation, 45% said they would like a referendum in the rest of the UK.

ComRes chairman Andrew Hawkins said it suggested both nations should have a say in any decision about the Union.

The poll asked 864 adults in England a variety of questions relating to Scottish independence.

Following an historic election victory in May, Scotland's SNP government promised to hold a referendum on Scottish independence within the next five years.

Start Quote

That almost half of the English feel that they would like a say over Scotland's future suggests that the Union should be England's as well as Scotland's to determine”

End Quote Andrew Hawkins Comres

English support for Scottish independence polled at 36% - almost exactly the same as the result of a poll for the Herald newspaper last month, which suggested 37% of Scots favoured separation.

Despite increasing complaints from English MPs that Scotland gets too much funding from Westminster, 51% of those surveyed thought that an independent Scotland would not make any difference to how well off England was.

While 21% of people thought England would be worse off, 19% said it would be better off.

On the issue of whether there would have to be a second referendum in the rest of the United Kingdom should Scotland vote for independence, as recently suggested by Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, opinion was fairly evenly split.

Forty-five percent said the rest of the United Kingdom should get a say, while 47% said it should not.

The poll in figures

Street performer wearing a union flag suit
  • 36% say Scotland should become a fully independent country, but 48% say it should not.
  • 51% say an independent Scotland would make no difference to England, while 19% believe it would leave England better off and 21% worse off.
  • 45% say a referendum should be held in the rest of the UK before Scotland can be allowed to be independent, while 47% say there is no need for one.
  • 36% say England should become an independent country, irrespective of any Scottish vote while 57% say it should not.

ComRes interviewed 864 English adults by telephone between 24 and 26 June 2011. Data was weighted to be demographically representative of all English adults.

Regardless of what Scotland decides to do, however, the poll indicated that most English people wanted England to remain within a United Kingdom, with 57% saying they would not like the country to become fully independent with its own government.

But more than a third did want to see an independent England - the same number as those who supported an independent Scotland.

Mr Hawkins said: "That almost half of the English feel that they would like a say over Scotland's future suggests that the Union should be England's as well as Scotland's to determine."

The SNP's Treasury Spokesman, Stewart Hosie, told The World at One: "What it tells me is that English people are very relaxed about Scottish independence... I think the real key about this is we're now starting a proper debate about what independence will mean. Not just for Scotland where that's a bit clearer, but for England as well."

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University told the BBC that the poll suggested that "for the most part, England wants the Union to continue and certainly sees little advantage in it ending, but probably would not die in a ditch to keep it preserved".

"After all, for most people in England, Scotland is not a significant 'other'," he said.

You can hear more about the poll in The World at One on BBC Radio 4 at 1300 BST and on Newsnight on BBC Two at 2230 BST on Monday 4 July 2011 and after on BBC iPlayer (UK only).

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