Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Sunday said she planned to hold a legal referendum on independence from Britain despite Westminster’s opposition, as an opinion poll showed a majority would vote yes.
If her Scottish National Party (SNP) wins a strong showing in regional elections in May, Ms. Sturgeon said she would seek a fresh referendum even though Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said such a vote should only be held once in a generation.
“I want to have a legal referendum, that is what I am going to seek the authority of the Scottish people for in May and if they give me that authority, that’s what I intend to do,” she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show .
Mr. Johnson “will flatly refuse the demand,” The Sunday Times quoted senior government sources as saying.
Ms. Sturgeon cited the fact that “the polls now show that a majority of people in Scotland want independence”.
A Sunday Times poll found 50% of Scottish voters wanted another referendum in the next five years and 49% would vote for independence, while 44% would reject it.
A 2014 referendum saw 55% vote “no.”
The Sunday Times quoted a forecast that the SNP will win a “landslide” in May polls for the Scottish parliament, giving Sturgeon a strong basis to call for the vote.
She spoke as the Scottish National Party (SNP) was due to discuss its “roadmap to a referendum” at a policy forum on Sunday.
The SNP says it will request a Section 30 order from the British government allowing the holding of another referendum. If this is refused it intends to push through its own legislation to prepare for a referendum and “vigorously” oppose a legal challenge from London.
“Scotland could hold a preliminary referendum, calling for negotiations on independence,” Alan Trench of University College’s constitutional unit said.
The newspaper poll found 50% of Scottish voters wanted another independence referendum in the next five years, despite the fact only 22% thought an independent country would be better off economically.
“Brexit and the coronavirus crisis... appear to be driving Scottish voters away from England,” the newspaper wrote.
22% thought Johnson had done a good job in tackling the pandemic, versus 61% for Ms. Sturgeon.
The poll also found 53% in Scotland would vote to rejoin the EU.