How do English and Welsh people feel about Scotland leaving the UK?

Matthew SmithLead data journalist
September 07, 2020, 10:54 AM UTC

As the possibility of Scottish independence looks more likely, we see how much the rest of Britain would care about the break-up of the union

When in mid-August YouGov revealed that the ‘Yes’ side in the Scottish independence battle has its strongest lead ever, it called into question how much time the United Kingdom has left.

We know how the debate is in Scotland, but what about in England and Wales?

Opinion in England

Less than half of English people (46%) say they want Scotland to remain part of the UK. Few want to see the nation pull away, however, at just 13%. Most of the rest (34%) have no opinion, saying that they consider it a matter for the people of Scotland to decide.

English people are marginally more hopeful that Wales will stay in the UK (51%). Only 6% actively want the nation to go, while 36% see it as an internal matter.

Attitudes are very different to Northern Ireland. By far the most common response to the prospect of Irish reunification was that it is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland to decide (46%). A quarter (26%) firmly say they want Northern Ireland to stay, but a not dissimilar number actively want to see the nation go (20%).

Opinion in Wales

Welsh people are less likely than the English to offer the view that Scotland should stay in the UK, at 39%. Nevertheless, this is not an indicator that they are more pro-Scottish independence, with an identical 13% saying they think the country should leave. Instead the difference is that Welsh people are more likely to see it as none of their business, and a matter for the people of Scotland, at 41%.

When it comes to Northern Ireland, attitudes are essentially the same among Welsh people as among the English: 48% see it as an internal matter, 26% want to see Northern Ireland stay and 18% want to see it join the rest of Ireland.

One in five people who voted for the Conservative and Unionist Party would be pleased to see the back of Scotland

When asked how they would feel about Scotland leaving, 15% of English people and 16% of Welsh people say they would be pleased – either for Scots or to see the back of them.

Ironically, given the party’s staunch pro-union stance, it is Conservative voters who are the most likely to say they would be pleased for Scotland to break away (aside from SNP voters of course). Please note that the following figures refer to all British voters, not just English ones.

One in five Conservatives (20%) say they would be happy if Scotland upped and left. This is an attitude particular to Scotland – they are far less likely to be pleased by the idea of Wales (4%) or Northern Ireland (8%) exiting the union.

This figure is almost twice as high as the proportion of Conservative voters who actively say Scotland should leave the UK (11%), indicating a certain amount is frustration at the rhetoric coming out of Scotland. Nevertheless, it is still striking that one in nine Tory voters wants to see Scotland leave the UK.

See the full results for Britain and England here and Wales here