Brexit could sway Scottish voters toward independence from UK: poll

FILE PHOTO: Union, Scottish Saltire and European Union flags (L-R) fly outside of the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain, July 1, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Heppell/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s exit from the European Union could tip public opinion in Scotland in favor of seeking independence, an opinion poll showed on Sunday.

Scotland voted against independence in 2014, but a subsequent referendum on leaving the EU has reignited debate over its long-term future as one of Britain’s four constituent parts alongside England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

In 2016, a majority of Scottish voters backed staying in the EU, while Britain as a whole, voted to leave, meaning that Britain is now due to leave the EU on March 29 2019.

The poll showed that if Britain leaves the EU as planned, 47 percent of Scots would vote for independence at another referendum on Scotland’s future. That compared to 43 percent who would vote against independence and 10 percent who did not know how they would vote.

If Britain remained inside the EU and a Scottish independence referendum were held, the poll showed opinions were reversed, with 43 percent backing Scottish independence under those circumstances, compared to 47 who were against it.

The poll was conducted by Deltapoll, a member of the British Polling Council, which interviewed 1,022 Scottish voters. The poll was commissioned by Best for Britain, an body campaigning for Britain to keep an open mind on retaining its EU membership.

The British government says that the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence settled the question.

Reporting by William James. Editing by Jane Merriman