Most Britons are apathetic about the archipelago’s continued presence within the UK
No-one expected that so shortly after our recent poll on attitudes to British nations and territories leaving the UK that a hitherto quiet part of the UK would be openly speculating about secession.
Earlier this week, the islands of Orkney made headlines by voting to explore alternative forms of governance to being a part of the UK. This could include being organised as a Crown Dependency, like the Channel Islands, or a British Overseas Territory, like the Falklands, or even – the most headline-grabbing option of all – becoming a part of Norway.
As a result, we have re-run our survey with the addition of Orkney. The results for the other areas were the much the same as they were last time, so we will only focus on Orkney in detail here.
Asked what they think should happen to Orkney, the most common response among Britons is simply “don’t know”, at 39% - the highest of all areas asked about.
The most common specific view was that Orkney should remain part of the UK, at 37%. A further 17% think Orkney should change its status while remaining British – either as a Crown Dependency or British Overseas Territory – while 6% say Orkney should become a self-governing territory of Norway.
When it comes to Britons’ emotional reaction in the unlikely event that Orkney leaves the UK entirely, the main response is apathy (54%), a rate higher than for any other location tested.
Only 5% of Britons would be pleased to see Orkney leave, while 28% would be upset.
We hope to look at the attitudes of Scots to an Orkney breakaway, both from the UK and from an independent Scotland, in more detail on a dedicated Scotland poll in the near future.