Date
24 September 2017
A pedestrian passes a Yes pro-independence campaign poster in Glasgow. Photo: Bloomberg
A pedestrian passes a Yes pro-independence campaign poster in Glasgow. Photo: Bloomberg

Scotland nationalists gaining ground

Scotland’s nationalists overtook opponents of independence in an opinion poll for the first time this year, sparking a government promise of more powers for the Scottish parliament less than two weeks before the country votes on whether to break up the 307-year-old United Kingdom.

A YouGov Plc survey for the Sunday Times showed Yes voters increased to 51 percent, while the No side dropped to 49 percent when undecided respondents were excluded, according to Bloomberg.

The shift to an outright lead for supporters of independence may further roil financial markets after the pound weakened last week when the pro-UK side’s support narrowed to six percentage points.

The September 18 ballot on Scottish independence is dominating the UK after door-to-door campaigning on both sides intensified last week and as traders and investors no longer rule out a dramatic victory for nationalist leader Alex Salmond.

“For a positive message to catch up so much in a month is totally unprecedented,” said Matt Qvortrup, a senior researcher at Cranfield University in England and author of Referendums and Ethnic Conflict. This is pretty revolutionary stuff in referendum terms. We’re ringside to history.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said a program to hand more powers to the Scottish Parliament if Scots vote No, offering Edinburgh more control over taxes, public spending and social policy, will be announced in the “next few days” as the London government responds to the shift in the polls.

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RA/JL

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