Scottish independence: The figures behind plan to give Scots across UK an Indyref vote

POLLING expert John Curtice has outlined how allowing Scots living in the rest of the UK the right to vote in an independence referendum could impact the result.

According to reports, UK Government Cabinet ministers are putting pressure on Boris Johnson to allow Scots living anywhere in the UK to vote in a re-run of the 2014 independence referendum in a bid to firm up the fight to protect the Union.

The Prime Minister is also being urged to recruit former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, to a newly created role of constitutional secretary, The Times reports.


John Curtice explains ‘undoubted’ impact of giving Scots across UK IndyRef vote

Ms Davidson, who is taking up a place in the House of Lords after quitting Holyrood, would head the pro-Union campaign from inside the UK Government, under the plans.

In the 2014 referendum, those registered to vote in Scotland took part in the independence referendum.

Writing exclusively in The Herald, John Curtice, a professor of politics at Strathclyde University claims the move to expand the franchise would “undoubtedly” help a comfortable unionist victory.


But what figures make up his theory?

  • As explained by John Curtice, around 2% of those living in England & Wales and another 1% in Northern Ireland were born in Scotland. That is enough to add some 900,000 names to the referendum. Alongside the four million people who are eligible to vote in Scotland, they would represent nearly one in five of all those entitled to vote.


  • In May/June 2014, the British Election study – which undertakes surveys of 30,000 people at a time – asked voters across the UK how they would cast their response to an Indyref.  It showed that, from 381 people born in Scotland but living in England or Wales, 78% said they would vote No. Only 22% indicated they would back Yes.


  • The same survey showed in 57% of voters in Scotland were backing No, 43% Yes – showing a twenty-point difference between the level of support in independence among those in Scotland, and Scots-born living elsewhere.


  • Professor Curtice added that, if we chose an “optimistic assumption” that those Scots living in the UK would be just as likely to vote as those in Scotland, a prediction can be made moving forward. With polls currently having Yes just slightly below No, it would “undoubtedly” help solidify a No vote, he claimed.


  • He added that if independence support would return to last summer’s peaks of 54%, rest of the UK votes might not be enough to delivery victory for the Union – Yes could still win 50.4%, he said.


John Curtice explains ‘undoubted’ impact of giving Scots across UK IndyRef vote


‘Rigging the rules’?

The First Minister has criticised the tactics on changing the franchise and suggested the appeal to Mr Johnson is an admission a second vote on independence will take place.

Writing on Twitter, Ms Sturgeon said: “I see the anti independence campaign is trying to rig the rules of #indyref2 again (tho in doing so they also concede that it’s going to happen).

“Maybe they should just argue their case on its merits and allow everyone who lives in Scotland to decide.”

A UK Government cabinet minister told The Times that “we know Sturgeon will start trying to force another referendum as soon as she thinks it is politically tenable again”, warning “there are things we can and should do now to be ready for her”.

They added: “One thing is to open up eligibility of the vote to all Scots in the UK, not just those living in Scotland. The other is to bring Ruth back into the front line. She is the best pro-Union voice we have.”


Another senior Tory figure told the paper: “Independence is behind in the polls now, and Sturgeon is getting flak from her own side for not talking about it since the election.

“We need to get out there on the front foot and start acting like we’re ahead and not just wait for her to catch up again, which was the catastrophic mistake we made after the 2014 referendum.”

A UK government spokeswoman said: “The sole priority of the UK Government is on continuing to roll out the UK’s life-saving vaccine programme and recovering from this health and economic emergency. 

“It is our duty and our responsibility to focus entirely on Covid recovery. That is what people in Scotland, rightly, expect.”



John Curtice explains ‘undoubted’ impact of giving Scots across UK IndyRef vote

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