Support for Scottish independence at highest ever level, according to poll

Video report by ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith

An unprecedented 58% of Scots said they would vote yes in a Scottish independence referendum, according to a survey.

The poll by STV and Ipsos MORI found that just 42% of Scots, when undecided voters are stripped out, backed staying in the union.

Including undecideds, 55% of people said they would vote Yes if there was an independence referendum tomorrow, 39% would vote No and 6% said they didn’t know.

It is the biggest lead in a poll for those in support of a breakaway.

Two-thirds of Scots polled (64%) said that if SNP wins a majority of seats, the UK government should allow a second independence referendum within the next five years.

And an SNP majority at Holyrood looks likely with 58% of those surveyed saying they plan to back the party.

A massive 72% back Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister compared to 24% dissatisfied, giving her a net approval rating of +49.

When asked about the poll at the Scottish Government coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon played it down, stressing her focus is on containing the disease.

She said: “Right now, I’d trade away approval ratings to get rid of Covid.”

The result was starkly different to satisfaction wth Westminster leaders. Just 19% expressed satisfaction with Prime Minister Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

Some 44% said they were satisfied with the job Keir Starmer was doing as leader of the opposition compared to 27% dissatisfied and 29% saying they don’t know, giving him net approval of +16.

More than three quarters of Scots (76%) are dissatisfied with the job Mr Johnson is doing, giving the PM an approval score of -58.

The SNP enjoys nearly a 40-point lead over its nearest rival, the Scottish Conservative party, on 58% compared to Conservative's 19%, with Scottish Labour on just 13% and the Scottish Lib Dems polling at 8%.

Emily Gray, managing director of Ipsos MORI Scotland, said: “Our latest poll will put a spring in the step of nationalists but makes grim reading for unionists.

“The Scottish public have shifted even further towards supporting an independent Scotland, with record numbers now saying they would vote Yes.

“Of course we are still a long way out from next May’s Holyrood elections, but SNP support currently looks very strong, buoyed by Nicola Sturgeon’s high satisfaction ratings among Scottish voters.

“Our poll suggests that there will be significant public pressure for the UK Government to transfer powers to the Scottish Parliament to hold a second independence referendum if the SNP win a majority at next year’s Holyrood elections.”

The survey took place between October 2 and October 9 and a total of 1,045 Scots were polled by telephone.

Early this year, Ms Sturgeon wrote to the Prime Minister claiming there was a "democratic case" for a new independence poll after the SNP won a huge majority in Scotland.

Mr Johnson has rejected her plea for a second referendum saying Ms Sturgeon's predecessor Alex Salmond had made a "personal promise" that the referendum in 2014 - which he lost by 55% to 45% - was a "once in generation" event.

In September, Ms Sturgeon told MSPs a draft bill will be drawn up setting out the timing, terms and question for a new referendum.

She said at next year’s Holyrood election she will “make the case for Scotland to become an independent country, and seek a clear endorsement of Scotland’s right to choose our own future”.