Scottish support for independence slips a week before vote

Updated: 2014-09-12 10:52


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Scottish support for independence slips a week before vote

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond addresses the International Media Conference at the EICC in Edinburgh, Scotland September 11, 2014. The referendum on Scottish independence will take place on September 18, when Scotland will vote whether or not to end the 307-year-old union with the rest of the United Kingdom. [Photo/Agencies]

EDINBURGH - Supporters of keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom have clawed back a 4 percentage point lead over separatists, a YouGov poll showed on Friday with just a week to go before Scots vote in a referendum on independence.

The YouGov survey for The Times and Sun newspapers put Scottish support for the union at 52 percent versus support for independence at 48 percent, excluding those who said they did not know how they would vote. YouGov's last poll showed support for independence at 51 percent.

"The 'no' campaign has moved back into the lead in Scotland's referendum campaign," YouGov President Peter Kellner said in a commentary on the survey. "This is the first time 'no' has gained ground since early August."

Pollsters YouGov and TNS have shown a surge in support for independence since late August as the secessionist campaign led by Alex Salmond won over supporters of the traditionally unionist Labour party and some female voters in Scotland.

So far only one poll this year, from YouGov last weekend, has put the separatists in front. That survey, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 to 3 percentage points, showed a 2 percentage point lead for the independence campaign.

"Although 'no' is back in front, the 'yes' campaign has held on to most of its gains since early August," Kellner said of YouGov's latest survey, which polled 1,268 people in Scotland between Tuesday and Thursday.

The sudden collapse of the strong unionist lead has prompted investors to sell sterling, shares in companies with Scottish exposure and British government bonds on fears that the United Kingdom might break up.

Following a vote for independence on Sept 18, Britain and Scotland would have to begin work on dividing up the United Kingdom's $2.5 trillion economy, North Sea oil and the national debt while Prime Minister David Cameron would face calls to resign.

Scotland would have to decide what currency it would use after London said it could not keep the pound, while Britain would have to decide what to do about its main nuclear submarine base on the Clyde, which the nationalists would like to eject.

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