Support for Scottish independence falls as SNP destabilised by sexual harassment claims

Scottish support for independence has fallen with 47% of Scots still supporting breaking up the United Kingdom by going it alone, a poll indicated on Thursday.

The fall in support may be due to divisions among Scottish nationalists, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon being accused by her predecessor and mentor, Alex Salmond, of misleading parliament over the government’s unlawful investigation of sexual harassment claims against him, Reuters reports.

She has denied misleading parliament. Salmond was cleared by a jury at Edinburgh’s High Court of all sexual assault charges.

“That kind of division could perhaps make people think twice about independence and whether or not the SNP can be trusted ultimately to have a united front when it is needed the most to get independence over the line,” said Chris Hopkins, political research director at Savanta ComRes.

Scottish nationalists are pushing for an independence referendum to be held after this May’s Scottish parliament election, but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said such votes should happen only once in a generation.

Alongside polling on independence support, the survey found that Scottish Conservatives had gained popularity while there was greater support for both Johnson and the British government.

In a referendum in 2014, Scots voted 55%-45% to remain in the United Kingdom, but both Brexit and the British government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis have bolstered support for independence among Scots.

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