The poll, conducted by Hanbury Strategy for the thinktank Onward, also highlights plunging support for a Scottish breakaway in a major boost for the Daily Express’s Unite the Kingdom crusade to make the positive case for keeping the UK together.
In what is the most comprehensive survey of attitudes towards the Union since 2014, the study shows independence support fell by 6 points during the week Nicola Sturgeon gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament, from 56 percent Yes in late February to 50 percent in the first weekend in March.
Between the end of February and the first weekend in March, the Yes lead fell by 12 percentage points, driven in large part by a 17 point swing among women and a 34 point swing among 18-24-year-olds towards No.
Onward’s report also found that Yes voters say that if Nicola Sturgeon resigned they would be less likely to vote for independence.
When asked what benefits or features of the Union they would miss if Scotland did vote for independence, 57 percent of Scottish voters said they would miss “funding for public services like the NHS”.
Some 40 percent said they would miss “the ability to travel and work freely around the United Kingdom” and 38 percent said they would miss a “shared British identity”.
Despite falling numbers, support for independence remains higher than before the 2014 referendum.
Yes retains a 30+ point lead among 18-45-year-olds, a 16 point lead among working-class voters, and net support in five of Scotland’s eight regions.
When asked about the conditions that should be met for a referendum to be held, 49 percent of all Scottish voters, including 48 percent of Yes voters, think that “Coronavirus should be completely eliminated in Scotland” before a referendum is held.
A further 38 percent of voters want “clarity on whether Scotland would be able to join the European Union”, and 37 percent of voters want the Scottish Government to make clear which currency would be used in the event of independence.
Will Tanner, report-co-author and director of Onward, said: “The breakup of the United Kingdom is not a foregone conclusion. Headline support for Scottish independence may be worryingly high, but it is clear that Scots do not want a referendum until coronavirus has been eliminated and the economy recovered.
“In addition, the Alex Salmond trial appears to be sowing doubt in voters’ minds at exactly the moment the vaccine programme is proving the benefits of partnership within the Union.
“There is all to play for if Unionists attend to the root causes of rising separatism. That means avoiding needless spats on constitutional issues – which only serve to rally Scots around the Saltire and further inflame separatism elsewhere – and focusing on voters’ true priorities. The UK Government should show – rather than tell – the benefits of the Union, and build a British identity that is complementary to, and accommodating of, the values and culture of all four nations. If it can, the Union is not yet lost.”