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HomeNewsNicola Sturgeon POLL: Has SNP blown independence hopes with draconian Covid curbs?

Nicola Sturgeon POLL: Has SNP blown independence hopes with draconian Covid curbs?

As Omicron restrictions come to an end in Scotland, critics of Ms Sturgeon have argued that her reaction to Omicron has been a failure of her leadership. On Thursday, Conservative MSP Douglas Ross questioned Ms Sturgeon on her choice to toughen Covid restrictions in the face of Omicron, alongside Wales and Northern Ireland – shutting nightclubs and reintroducing social distancing measures.

Mr Ross said: “The First Minister imposed restrictions that had a massive impact on jobs, on businesses, on people’s mental and physical health, but we can now see they weren’t needed.” He added: “The First Minister has tried to build a reputation for caution during this pandemic. But she was far too gung-ho in imposing extra restrictions last month. Will she now accept that her government went too far?”

Ms Sturgeon defended herself by saying: “We introduced a series of balanced, protective measures over the Christmas period. These coupled with the extraordinary response of the public in changing their behaviour, and of course the extraordinary success of the booster programme, means we are thankfully now in a better position than we might have been.”

She added: “The public did comply with what the Government asked them to do. Douglas Ross is striking quite a desperate note right now.”

Recent polling suggests that more Scots are leaning towards voting for Scottish independence.

In three separate polls conducted by Savanta ComRes, Opinium, and Ipsos since November 22, 2021, voters swung in favour of independence – marking the longest period of majority support for independence since April.

But this swing away from remaining in the UK, may have been caused by the Downing Street party scandals that have erupted since December.

However, support for independence still remains much lower than Ms Sturgeon would like, sitting at a high of 52 percent of the electorate.

No substantial change in the polls has been seen since the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

The SNP expected Brexit to transform the debate on Scottish independence, as it was assumed Remain voters would move in favour of independence to retain their EU citizenship. After all, 62 percent of Scots voted to remain in the EU in 2016.

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Former Labour MP and political commentator for the Telegraph Tom Harris said: “The main reason independence has not yet made the breakthrough expected by Remainers and Rejoiners across the land, is one that few of them would be willing to acknowledge: Scots in general, even those who regret our departure from the EU, regard the 300-year-old social, political and economic Union as more important and more precious than a 50-year-old trade deal.”

While re-joining the EU would give Scotland’s economy a small boost, parting from the UK would undo those gains tenfold, data suggests.

The UK is Scotland’s largest and most important trading partner, accounting for 61 percent of its exports and 67 percent of its imports – around four times greater than its trade with the EU.

Experts from the London School of Economics (LSE) predict independence would increase trading costs with the rest of the UK by 15 to 30 percent.

Hanwei Huang, an LSE researcher, said: “This analysis shows that, at least from a trade perspective, independence would leave Scotland considerably poorer than staying in the United Kingdom.”

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But Ms Sturgeon has promised Scotland that she will secure another independence referendum by the end of 2023.

And it looks like her political career depends on it, as SNP ministers grow increasingly restless.

According to Mr Harris: “The biggest threat to her comes from her own party members, who are not prepared to wait for a whole generation before achieving their dream of separation from the UK.”

Do you think she will secure a new referendum before the end of her political term? Have your say in the comments section below.

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