The authoritative source for independent research on UK-EU relations

10 Jan 2018


Politics and Society

Scottish voters want decisions about issues that are already devolved, such as fishing and farming, to be made in post Brexit Scotland by the Scottish Government – but would like to keep the same rules as the rest of the UK on reserved issues such as trade and immigration.

A new report by Senior Research Fellow, John Curtice, for the National Centre for Social Research’s (NatCen) website “What UK Thinks” project, shows that 62% of Scots think that all decisions about fishing should be made by the Scottish Government once powers have been repatriated from Brussels. Just 27% think that decision-making about fishing should be shared between the Scottish and the UK governments, while only 9% reckon they should all be made by the UK government.

Similarly, when it comes to farming, 59% think the Scottish Government should make all the decisions post-Brexit, 32% believe they should be shared, and 8% feel they should all be made by the UK government.

However, when it comes to those areas that are currently the responsibility of the UK government, there is less appetite for putting powers in the hands of the Scottish Government. 63% of people in Scotland think that post-Brexit the rules on immigration should be the same in Scotland as in the rest of the country, and 67% think the same should be true for trade.

Voters in Scotland often have similar views about Brexit as voters elsewhere in Britain

Much like voters across Britain as a whole, a majority of people in Scotland would prefer to see an end to freedom of movement with the EU. 59% of voters in Scotland think potential EU migrants to the UK should have to apply to come here, as do 64% of voters across Britain as a whole.

Also just like voters elsewhere, people in Scotland have become more critical of the way that both the UK government and the EU are handling the Brexit negotiations. 69% of Scottish voters think that the UK government is handling things badly, up from 57% in February 2017. Similarly, 55% think that the EU is handling the talks badly, up from 44%.

However, voters in Scotland are more likely than those in the rest of Britain to prioritise securing free trade with the EU over control of immigration. 63% of people in Scotland would accept free movement if it were the price that had to be paid for free trade, compared with just 53% across Britain as a whole.

Professor John Curtice, Senior Research Fellow at ScotCen said: “Our results suggest that both the UK and the Scottish Government may need to do some rethinking of their plans for post-Brexit Scotland.

“The UK government’s proposal that EU responsibilities for devolved areas such as fishing and farming should in the first instance at least be given to Westminster appears to be out of tune with the public mood north of the border.

“But equally, the Scottish Government appears to have made little headway in persuading voters that Scotland should have a closer relationship with the EU post-Brexit. Most still think the rules on EU trade and immigration should be the same in Scotland as in the rest of the UK.”

By Sir John Curtice, Brexit research leader at The UK in a Changing Europe. You can read the full report here.


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