It’s all gone wrong, Nicola! Indy dreams in tatters as ‘No’ with biggest lead in 15 months

Nicola Sturgeon: Dale warns of drop in independence support

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The latest survey showed 51 percent of voters would opt to stay part of the UK if asked to vote in an independence referendum. This marked a one percent increase in support for remaining since a similar ballot was conducted at the end of February. The poll, carried out by Survation for the Press and Journal, was taken after Ms Sturgeon and Alex Salmond gave evidence to the Holyrood inquiry into the SNP-led government’s handling of sexual harassment complaints against Mr Salmond.

The First Minister was this week cleared of breaching the ministerial code over her involvement in the Alex Salmond scandal.

However, a committee did find her guilty of misleading parliament.

Analysts have warned the saga inflicted irreparable damage to Ms Sturgeon’s reputation.

Damian Lyons Lowe, Survation founder and chief executive, said the two-point lead for the No side in an indyref has not been recorded in over a year.

He explained: “For the first time since December 2019, using the standard independence question, Survation has a two-point lead for No to independence — 51 percent to a 49 percent for Yes when undecided voters were removed.”

Seeking to shrug off the saga and push forward with her political ambitions, Ms Sturgeon will this week kick off her campaign for the Holyrood elections in May.

The leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) has warned voters Boris Johnson’s Government could “wreck” Scotland’s recovery from the Covid pandemic if the nation does not achieve independence soon.

Seeking to win back support for independence from sceptical Scots, she said: “With independence we’ll have a recovery made in Scotland and we’ll have the powers needed to build a fairer and more prosperous country.

“To vote for that right to decide your future – and to join together in our national mission to build that better country – make it both votes SNP on May 6.”

The First Minister said the SNP’s campaign would be “overflowing with optimism and hope for a better Scotland” after the poll suggested voters were shying away from independence.

She claimed opposition parties “have made it very clear over these past few weeks that they are not interested in governing or leading”.

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Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, who is seeking election to Holyrood in the Highlands and Islands, has sought to rally pro-UK voters behind his party in a bid to ensure there is not another referendum on independence.

Mr Ross had called for Ms Sturgeon to resign if she was found to have broken the ministerial code.

He accused her of “undermining Holyrood” and said “everyone and everything is acceptable collateral damage in her fight for survival”.

After she was cleared, Ms Sturgeon survived a vote of no confidence led by the Scottish Tories.

Mr Ross warned if the SNP won a parliamentary majority in May the party would push ahead with a “reckless” independence referendum in the midst of the Covid crisis.

He said: “With an SNP majority, Scotland’s recovery would be derailed by their obsession with another independence referendum.

“Their Indyref2 Bill would pass without real challenge and they would proceed with a reckless referendum right away while we’re still facing a health and economic crisis.

“We need pro-UK voters to unite once again behind the Scottish Conservatives, just as they did in 2016, to stop an SNP majority so we can get 100 percent of our focus back on rebuilding Scotland.”

The poll was carried out from March 11 to 18, with a total of 1,536 Scottish adults taking part.

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