In January, we polled 5,943 Scottish independence supporters to seek their opinions on a range of issues impacting the movement. We recruited respondents through Twitter and Yes supporting Facebook pages, generating a wide cross-section of the Yes movement. When we research public opinion, we use Panelbase to generate representative samples but that was not our intention here. In our last Yes movement poll in September (3,226 responses) we were able to identify the motivations of around 200 No to Yes switchers. 60% of them identified Brexit as the key motivation to switching sides and that theme holds true in this much larger sample.
Our new poll found that 97% of No to Yes switchers want an independent Scotland to become a member of the EU. Thus, rejoining the EU must be a key plank of the indyref2 argument. Not only does Brexit (against Scotland’s wishes) justify a second referendum, but it is also the key motivation for No to Yes switchers and the expectation of the majority of the Yes movement.
When you look at the overall attitudes towards joining the EU from the whole Yes movement there is still a supermajority of 88% support for rejoining. In fact, when the old unionist trope that joining the EU is “swapping Westminster rule for Brussels rule”, the Middle 30% of voters (who could go either way on the independence question) are likely to feel motivated to Vote Yes. This shouldn’t be a big surprise as “Vote No to stay in the EU” was arguably the most effective weapon the 2014 No campaign had (even though it turned out to be a lie).
In 2014 the Yes side had a valid case that if Scotland, being an EU member, were to become independent it would remain an EU member and not have to rejoin. Unfortunately, Brexit happening whilst Scotland was still in a political union with the UK means that an independent Scotland would have to rejoin the EU and that could take up to four years. Many have therefore suggested that joining The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) would allow swifter access to the EU market but although many would see that as an acceptable compromise it isn’t the game-changer that full EU membership represents.
You might think well 66% being happy with EFTA is a good result but frankly, it’s not because thats means 1/3 are unhappy and its the most important third. When we delved deeper into the figures, we found that 100% of No to Yes switchers would be unhappy with joining EFTA versus joining the EU. Add to that, not even one single person who said No to rejoining the EU listed that policy as one that would make them less likely to vote Yes or even less likely to campaign for independence.
Let’s be 100% clear, Yes will not win indyref2 if there is any ambiguity about our intention to rejoin the EU as an independent nation. A vote for independence is a vote for Scotland rejoining the EU.
This is backed up from our general population research which identified majority Yes support amongst non-Scots-born voters (with specific policy offers) and rejoining the EU is fundamental to that as EU born citizens will vote Yes in big numbers to rejoin the EU, whereas last time they feared a Yes vote meant leaving the EU.
Instead of trying to shortcut access to the EU and especially the European Economic Area (single market) via joining EFTA Scotland should seek Associate Membership of the EU, beginning on independence day which will follow a two year transition period. Associate membership could include access to the single market, no voting rights but immediate involvement in multiple policy areas such as, membership of the Europol policing agency and the Erasmus student exchange scheme. Associate membership is the EU’s new big idea and Scotland could be the successful case study.
This is the first of several articles that will come from our Big Yes poll. Join our campaign now simply by pledging your support for independence and we will email future articles.