Two-thirds of Scots think the UK will not exist in ten years, Ipsos polling shows

Almost two-thirds of Scots say the UK will break up within a decade, and half think it will take just five years, according to a new poll by Ipsos Mori. 

Half of Scots want Scotland to vote for independence, with another 4% saying they don’t mind either way.

And despite the constant onslaught by Unionist politicians and media, most Scots say an independent Scotland will be either more prosperous or equally as prosperous as it is under Westminster rule. 

Independence on 50% - with 4% saying they “don’t mind either way”

Asked if they would prefer Scotland to vote for or against independence, 50% of Scots said ‘for’, 43% ‘against’ with 4% saying they don’t mind either way and 2% ‘don’t know’. 

In Northern Ireland, less than half - 43% said they would like Scotland to vote ‘against’ independence with 26% saying they ‘don’t mind either way’ and 28% saying ‘for’. In Wales and England, a slim majority of 54% wanted Scotland to vote against independence. 

Only a quarter of Scots think the UK will last a decade in its current form

Asked if the UK will still exist in its current form in ten years, just a quarter of Scots, 26%, think it will, with 13% saying they don’t know, and 61% saying it will have broken up. And in just five years, less than half of Scots (42%) think the UK will still exist:  49% say it won’t still exist and 9% don’t know.

A majority of people in Northern Ireland, Wales, and England agree that the UK will have ceased to exist in its present form within a decade. Even in England, less than half - 46% - predict the UK will still exist in its current form in five years - down from 51% six months ago.  If you take the timeline to 20 years, only around 20% in England and 11% in Northern Ireland say the UK will still exist in its current form. 

Independent Scotland will either be better off or the same, say most Scots

More than half of Scots say that an independent Scotland would be either more prosperous (43%)  or equally as wealthy (10%)  as under Westminster rule, with less than half, 43% thinking independent Scotland would be worse off and 4% ticking ‘don’t know’.  

In England, however, 58% of people think an independent Scotland would be worse off - but only 50% of those surveyed in Wales and 45% of those in Northern Ireland agree. The percentage of ‘don’t knows’ was higher in the other three UK countries than Scotland, at between 12 and 14%.

The rest of the UK more likely to be worse off when Scotland becomes independent

In all four nations, people are more likely to think the economies of the rest of the Union would be worse off (37%) than better off (20%) if Scotland became independent, with 45% of Scots saying that the rest of the UK will be worse off after independence.

There is widespread concern about the current state of the UK economy: 80% of Scots expect the general economic condition of the UK to worsen in the next 12 months, compared to 73% in February 2022. They are only slightly more optimistic about Scotland: 73% expect Scotland’s general economic condition to get worse over the year ahead, compared to 68% earlier this year.

Independence support is higher than average in this new poll. 

The poll did not ask the standard Yes/No question on Scottish independence, opting rather to ask if people would prefer Scotland voted for or against independence.  This will be due to the fact that it was a UK-wide poll.  The figures for Scotland were 50% would prefer Scotland voted for independence versus 43% against. 4% had no preference and 2% were undecided.  Now that adds up to 99% and we don't know where the rounding effect impacts so we can’t be 100% certain but we can estimate that this would result in 53% Yes 47% No as things stand.   

This data was collected by Ipsos’s UK Knowledge Panel, a random probability panel which provides gold-standard insights into the UK population.  Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 6,944 people over the age of 16 in the UK online from 13th to 19th October 2022. 

The findings echo other recent polls showing Scotland moving towards independence

The polling echoes recent findings that most Scots have much more trust in the Scottish government than in Westminster. A poll by Panelbase for Believe in Scotland in October found that 50% of Scottish voters had more trust in the economic competence of the Holyrood government than in the UK Government. Only 28% had more trust in Westminster’s economic competence and 22% answered that they didn’t know.

Also published last month, the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey shows that Scottish voters increasingly say they don’t trust Westminster to act in Scotland’s best interests. Two-thirds of respondents think that they can trust the Scottish Government to work in Scotland’s interests, compared to just 22% who say the same about the UK Government. 

It also confirms the long-term trend towards independence. Over the last decade, the number of Scots supporting independence has gone from around 28% to above 50%. The Social Attitudes survey began in 1997 and can map the trends since then.  Ipsos Mori confirms the trend, with polling starting back in 1979, when support for independence stood at just 14%. 

This recent data shows that Scots are growing in confidence and starting to look towards an independent future, where it will elect its own governments all of the time. 

By Jackie Kemp