Curtice: New EU voting data suggests economic argument crucial to indyref 2

More localised EU referendum results hint that Scots favoured Leave for economic reasons, furthering the case that winning the economic argument will be vital to success in any future independence referendum according to a leading expert

NEW EU referendum voting statistics suggest winning the economic argument will be crucial to the outcome of any future independence referendum, according to political expert Professor John Curtice.

New data compiled by the BBC from Freedom of Information requests this week revealed more detailed regionalised voting results from a sample of constituencies across the UK. While all 32 of Scotland’s constituency areas favoured the Remain vote, the data revealed that Leave enjoyed more localised success, particularly among communities where fishing is the chief source of employment.

Voters in Banff and Buchan in Aberdeenshire voted strongly in favour of Leave, with 61 per cent of votes in this ward cast in favour of exiting the European Union. Also coming out strongly in favour of leaving the EU were the residents of Whalsay and South Unst in the Shetland Islands, where 81 per cent voted Leave. A narrower margin of success was enjoyed by Leave in An Taobh Siar agus Nis in the Outer Hebrides, with only 20 votes splitting the Remain and Leave campaigns. A further six of the nine electoral wards in the island Na h-Eileanan Siar constituency fell below the Scottish result of 62 per cent in favour of Remain. That is in contrast to Midlothian and Stirling where only one of six and seven wards respectively lagged below the national voting average.

“It is not surprising to see these regions vote how they did, even in the traditional SNP strongholds in the north-east.” Professor Curtice

“These results further demonstrate that winning the economic argument will be crucial to any future referendum,” Professor Curtice told CommonSpace. “It is not surprising to see these regions vote how they did, even in the traditional SNP strongholds in the north-east.

“This is an example of why there was a divide among nationalists over the EU, with as many as one in three favouring Leave.”

The policy issue of fishing regulations appears to have been a strong motivating factor in determining a Leave vote where data has been attained for Scotland. The three communities identified as favouring Leave are strongly dependant on the industry for their income.

The common fisheries policy has been in place since 1957 when the European Community, which has grown to become the European Union, was founded. Under its terms boats from member states are placed under restrictions determining what fish they are allowed to catch. The quotas have proved unpopular among fishing communities who believe their earning potential is limited by the rules.

“Trying to tag indyref 2 off the back of Brexit alone is unlikely to work.” Professor Curtice

And the results should serve as a warning to Scotland’s pro-independence campaigners, according to Curtice. “Trying to tag indyref 2 off the back of Brexit alone is unlikely to work.

“There is not enough evidence that a sufficient number of people in Scotland are upset enough by the outcome to change their vote.

“Appealing for a case of democratic deficit is only likely to attract those who already favoured independence. Those who voted No are more inclined to think that Scotland does not have the right to self-determination anyway. Convincing voters of the economic case for an independent Scotland within the EU could be crucial.”

The findings “mostly confirmed what we already knew” in regards to other EU referendum voting patterns, according to Professor Curtice, with areas where there are a higher number of graduates, young people and people from ethnic minorities more likely to favour the Remain campaign throughout the UK. “These figures are replicated in Scotland, simply on a smaller scale,” he said.

While Nicola Sturgeon has hinted a second independence referendum would follow Brexit there has so far been no official government motion to begin the process. Opinion polls suggest support for an independent Scotland remains largely unmoved by the outcome of the EU referendum vote.

Picture courtesy of Scottish Government

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