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NEWS11 January 2018

Research highlights attitudes towards Brexit in Scotland

Brexit News Public Sector Trends UK

UK – Scottish voters have become more critical of how the UK government is handling Brexit, and feel decisions about fishing and farming – currently handled by the EU – should be made in post-Brexit Scotland, according to research from Sir John Curtice.

Research from Curtice, senior research fellow at NatCen and professor of politics at Strathclyde University, found that a majority of Scottish voters surveyed ( 59%) appeared to be in favour of EU migrants applying to live in Scotland being treated in the same way as non-EU migrants. 

However, the findings also suggest that voters in Scotland are more likely than those south of the border to accept freedom of movement in exchange for free trade with the EU ( 63% compared to 53% of UK voters as a whole). Participants were overwhelmingly in favour of free trade post-Brexit ( 90%).

Over two-thirds ( 69%) feel that Brexit is being handled badly by the UK government, compared to 57% in spring 2017. Criticism over how the process is being handled has seen a similar increase elsewhere in the UK, a previous NatCen report found. 

However, this critical view also extends to the EU – the research found that 42% of respondents believe that both the UK government and the EU have been handling Brexit badly.

Sixty-two per cent of those surveyed would like to see decisions related to the fishing industry made by the Scottish government after the country leaves the EU, while 59% felt farming decisions should be made in Scotland post-Brexit.

However, a majority of voters in Scotland believe that the rules on immigration ( 63%) and trade ( 67%) should remain the same as the rest of the UK after Brexit.

Despite increased pessimism around the outcome of Brexit, however, the research showed no evidence of a swing in favour of Scottish independence.

The research was conducted between 28 September and 29 October 2017. ScotCen interviewed a random sample of 859 adults living in Scotland about the subject – all of whom had initially been interviewed as part of the 2015 or 2016 Scottish Social Attitudes survey.