Brexit Would Make Scottish Independence More Likely, Says Poll

A bagpiper in front of the Houses of Parliament on Westminster Bridge in London September 18, 2014. Scotland would be more likely to vote to leave the U.K. in the event of a Brexit, a poll has found. Reuters/Luke MacGregor

The Scottish people would be more likely to vote for the country to become independent from the U.K. if Britain left the European Union, according to a new poll.

A survey released by Ipsos Mori on Wednesday showed that 49 percent of Scots would vote to leave the United Kingdom and 45 percent would vote to stay if a referendum on the issue were held tomorrow.

This rises to 54 percent support for independence against 39 percent choosing to stay if a referendum were held in the event of Britain leaving the EU.

In a referendum on whether Scotland should become independent in 2014, 55 percent of the country voted to remain part of the United Kingdom.

But despite assurances from then-First Minister and independence campaigner Alex Salmond that the result of the referendum would settle the matter for a generation, a subsequent landslide in Scotland for the secessionist Scottish National Party (SNP) in Britain's May 2015 general election meant the issue has hardly been out of the political spotlight since.

Scottish voters consistently register more support for remaining in the European Union than voters in much of England. For this reason, the SNP has argued that a vote for Brexit could trigger a second Scottish independence referendum.

"If Scotland had voted to stay in and the UK as a whole votes to come out, which therefore means Scotland faces being taken out of the EU when we don't want to be," SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC in January, "I've said before and I will say again I think it is highly likely that would trigger an overwhelming demand for a second Scottish referendum on independence."

The poll's findings also back up the view of some politicians from the unionist side of the argument. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is pro-EU and pro-U.K., has said that a "Brexit" from the EU would make Scottish independence more likely.

"In my opinion... if the United Kingdom votes to leave Europe, Scotland will vote to leave the United Kingdom," Blair told French radio in January.

But not everyone agrees. Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, told an event in London on Monday night that "The SNP have said that if we came out of Europe they might use that as an Indyref trigger but then they say that about almost everything..."

The poll comes ahead of elections to the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood in May, and shows an astonishing lead for the SNP, with 53 percent of those likely to vote saying they would cast their constituency vote for Sturgeon's party.