As part of our latest Panelbase poll, we wanted to explore the so-called “2017 Scenario” hinted at by new SNP leader and First Minister-elect Nicola Sturgeon, whereby the Tories control the UK parliament, the SNP have another majority at Holyrood, and the UK holds a referendum on the EU where England/the rUK votes to leave and Scotland votes to stay in.
To that end, we asked two key questions. Our findings are below.
There may be a referendum in 2017 on the UK’s membership of the European Union. If there is, which way do you currently think you’d vote?
Stay in the EU: 41%
Leave the EU: 38%
Don’t know: 19%
Wouldn’t vote: 2%
Excluding DKs and WNVs, that’s a pretty tight 52% of Scots wanting to stay in the EU against 48% who’d rather leave. But breaking down the responses is interesting.
Yes voters: 57% stay, 43% leave
No voters: 48% stay, 52% leave
A sizeable 18-point gap between Yes and No voters, there, and crucially one which spans the dividing line. But the results broken down by party and including Don’t Knows are perhaps more surprising. Here they are by Holyrood 2011 vote:
Lib Dem voters: 54% stay, 24% leave, 21% don’t know
Labour voters: 44% stay, 37% leave, 20% d/k
SNP voters: 44% stay, 42% leave, 13% d/k
Conservative voters: 26% stay, 48% leave, 26% d/k
And now split by who people said they’d vote for in 2015:
Lib Dem voters: 66% stay, 24% leave, 10% don’t know
Labour voters: 49% stay, 33% leave, 17% d/k
SNP voters: 49% stay, 34% leave, 17% d/k
Conservative voters: 31% stay, 45% leave, 23% d/k
UKIP voters: 7% stay, 89% leave, 3% d/k
What we see there is the collapse of the Lib Dems and the arrival on the Scottish scene of UKIP. As a result Labour (by nine points), the SNP (by 13 points) and even the Tories (by eight points) all get more pro-Europe, as an influx of Lib Dems and an exodus of anti-EU supporters to UKIP takes effect.
And then we asked this:
Imagine that Scotland voted to stay in the EU, but was outvoted by the rest of the UK choosing to leave. In those circumstances, would a second Scottish independence referendum be justified, so that Scotland wasn’t forced out of the EU against its will?
Yes, it would be justified: 45%
No, we should accept the UK-wide result: 41%
Don’t know: 13%
That’s a small majority (52-48 excluding DKs) backing Scotland being able to decide independently whether it should be in the EU or not. One might then be forgiven for wondering why those people didn’t support actual independence, particularly as fewer than two-thirds of No voters (63%) were prepared to say that Scotland should accept the UK-wide result. (22% backed a second indyref, 14% didn’t know.)
Nevertheless, and despite the numbers on EU membership itself being so tight, the “2017 Scenario” seems to be politically viable. We already knew from last week’s polling that a 3:2 majority of Scots were happy to have a second independence referendum as early as within five years, and we’ve now confirmed that the public would back a potential forced exit from the EU as a reason for one.
We live in interesting times.