Poll reveals highest support for Welsh independence ever recorded

  • Video report by ITV Wales correspondent Richard Morgan

  • Watch UK: The End of the Union? Tonight on ITV Cymru Wales at 7.30pm

A new poll has revealed some of the highest levels of support for Welsh independence ever recorded.

The poll, made for the ITV News Tonight programme in collaboration with Savanta ComRes, showed that 39% of respondents in Wales favoured independence from the rest of the UK.

The top reason for wanting to leave was the view that Wales has different social attitudes to the rest of the UK. Other reasons included a feeling that Wales is historically a separate nation.

Last year, the pandemic saw an increase in support for Welsh independence group YesCymru. Their membership went from just over 2,000 in February 2020 to more than 14,000 by November that same year.

A previous poll, carried out in January 2021, conducted by ITV Wales on the topic showed 22% of Welsh respondents supported independence.

More than 1,000 adults in Wales took part in the online poll, which was carried out between 18-22 February 2021. Credit: PA Images

Excluding 'don’t know' answers, 39% said they would vote ‘Yes’ if a referendum on Welsh independence was held tomorrow.

Some of the top reasons people gave for why they would back independence included having greater trust in the Senedd than Westminster and being unhappy with how the UK Government have responded to coronavirus.

The top five reasons were:

  • Feel that Wales has different social attitudes to the UK (53%)

  • Feel that Wales is a historically separate nation (51%)

  • Believe Wales will fare better if independent (46%)

  • Unhappy with the UK’s pandemic response (39%)

  • Greater trust in the Senedd than Westminster (36%)

When asked about any reservations supporters of Welsh independence may have, the top answers were the economy, the ability to travel and work freely across the UK and the possibility of a lower standard of living.

Almost a quarter of respondents also thought Wales would be more likely to become independent if Scotland did first.

When asking pro-union respondents why they wanted to remain as a part of the UK, the belief that their nation was an important part of the UK was listed in the top three reasons.

They also believed Wales would fare better economically and be stronger in the UK.

YesCymru said although different poll results on the matter fluctuate, the "overall trend" shows growing support for independence.

Reacting to the findings, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said decisions affecting Wales “should be made in Wales” and that this was a “simple matter of democracy” to which the Tories and Labour “are opposed”. 

Mr Price said only his party would deliver a referendum that “more and more people want to see”.

Plaid Cymru have pledged to offer a referendum on Welsh independence within their first term of Government, should it hold a majority after the Senedd elections in May.

In response to the poll, which also gathered data on views of independence across the other UK nations, a UK Government spokesperson said: "The United Kingdom is the most successful political and economic union the world has ever seen, and this pandemic and our collective response, from the furlough scheme to vaccine procurement and the backing of our military personnel, has shown that we are at our strongest when we work together towards a common goal. 

"The Prime Minister remains fully committed to strengthening and levelling up all parts of the country by empowering local communities and reforming central government. He has been clear that all parts of the UK are stronger together and he will always stand against those trying to separate the United Kingdom.

"Now more than ever, people want to see the UK Government and the devolved administrations working together to protect lives and livelihoods across our country."

While support for Welsh independence has grown, a poll carried out for ITV Wales in January suggested those figures had stabilised. Credit: PA Images

Support for Welsh independence has grown in the last few years but the latest ITV Wales Welsh Political Barometer poll, carried out in January 2021, found those figures seemed to have stabilised.

That poll found that 22% of people supported Welsh independence. However a similar amount said they did not know how they vote on the matter and more than half also said they would vote 'No' to Welsh independence.

The January poll also revealed that 26% of people said they would vote 'Yes' to abolishing the Senedd all together.

  • ITV Tonight Programme, UK: The End of the Union? with Julie Etchingham will air Thursday 4 March, 7:30pm