Scots 25% more likely to support independence under next PM, poll suggests

A survey of 1,002 Scots showed a equal shift in favour of independence regardless of which candidate wins the Tory leadership race.

15 August 2022

A quarter of Scots would be more likely to support Scottish independence regardless of who becomes the next Prime Minister, a new poll suggests.

The survey of 1,002 Scots done by Survation and Diffley Partnerships for Charlotte Street Partners looked at attitudes to Tory leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak as the pair prepare to attend a hustings event in Perth on Tuesday.

When asked if they were more likely to support Scottish independence if Ms Truss were to win No 10, 20% said they were “much more likely”, while 5% said they would “a little more likely” to back separation.

Sunak and Truss during a hustings
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are competing to be Tory leader and Prime Minister (Jacob King/PA)

Some 22% said Ms Truss’ appointment would not change their view and they would support independence regardless, while 36% said they did not support independence and her election would not change that stance.

When asked the same question in reference to Mr Sunak, 19% said they were much more likely, while 7% said they were a little more likely.

Again, most of the respondents said it would not impact their stance, 25% of whom already supported independence compared to 35% who did not.

On the ability to lead the country, Mr Sunak came out on top, with 27% saying he would be better than Ms Truss, who 25% of people backed to be a better leader – 47% of people said they didn’t know who would be better.

The poll also suggested it would be unlikely for the Tories’ electoral fortunes to change in Scotland regardless of the new leader.

Just 11% of people said they would be more likely to support the Tories at a general election under Ms Truss, while 9% said they would switch to the Tories under the former chancellor.

But 19% of respondents said they would be more likely to oppose the Tories at an election where Mr Sunak was in charge, compared to 18% for the Foreign Secretary.

Some 43% said they would oppose the Tories regardless of Mr Sunak’s selection, while 42% said the same of Ms Truss.

When asked who they believed would better act in the interests of Scotland, the candidates were deadlocked at 18%, while 64% said they did not know.

On the question of trust, 25% of people said Ms Truss was more honest and truthful, compared to 19% for Mr Sunak.

Asked about the candidates’ ability to maintain the union, 22% said the Foreign Secretary would fare better, compared to 21% for the former chancellor.

Iain Gibson, a partner at Charlotte Street Partners, said: “Whilst perceptions can change over time, it is clear that whoever wins this leadership election will need to ensure Scotland is prioritised amongst such a perilous political backdrop.

“Both candidates will be concerned that a quarter of Scots are more likely to vote for independence regardless of who wins, and will therefore need to devote time and energy to mitigating that trend.

“It also appears that the problems Sunak faced earlier in the year around his personal wealth and his wife’s tax status have cut through in Scotland, where he is seen as less truthful and a lot less in touch with the public than Liz Truss.”

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