Scottish Independence Referendum & Westminster Voting Intention (31 March – 1 April 2023)

April 4, 2023
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | GB Politics | GB Public Figures | Scottish Independence | UK Elections | UK Politics | Voting Intention

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In the week following Humza Yousaf’s election as Nicola Sturgeon’s successor as Leader of the Scottish National Party and First Minister of Scotland, Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest monthly Scottish independence referendum voting intention poll finds ‘no’ leading by 6%

Altogether—with changes from 2-5 March in parentheses—50% (-1) of Scottish respondents say they would vote ‘no’ and 44% (+2) say they would vote ‘yes’ if there were to be a referendum tomorrow on whether Scotland should be an independent country. 6% (-2) don’t know how they would vote. 

Support for Scottish independence remains especially strong among younger Scots, with majorities of those aged 16-to-24 (51%), 25-to-34 (54%) and 35-44 (52%) all saying they would vote ‘yes’ for independence. By comparison, only 37% of those aged 55-to-64, and 31% of those aged over 65, would vote ‘yes.’ Those who voted for the Scottish National Party (75%) in the 2019 General Election are significantly more likely than those who voted Conservative (11%) or Labour (24%) to say they would vote ‘yes.’

On the question of whether a second referendum should take place—and if so, when—44% (-5) would oppose a referendum on Scottish independence being held in the next year, while 41% (+7) would support one being held in this timeframe.

Given a broader timeframe of between one and five years, a narrow plurality (43%, +6) of Scottish voters would support—against 41% (-3) who would oppose—a referendum on Scottish independence being held in that period

On the possible conditions for holding a second independence referendum, an equal number (40%) of Scots agree and disagree that a second independence referendum should only be held if the UK Government agrees to it.  

Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack has previously suggested that the calling of a second independence referendum should be conditional on public opinion polls consistently showing that 60% of Scots want one. 50% of Scottish voters agree with this proposed condition, including 49% of 2019 SNP voters. 

If a second referendum were to be held in Scotland in the next six months, 35% (+5) of Scots say they would expect the ‘yes, for independence’ side would win, whereas 47% (-2) think the ‘no, against independence’ side would win. 18% (-3) of respondents say they don’t know who would win if a referendum were held in the next six months. 

Pluralities of Scottish voters say neither adopting the Euro (37%) nor creating a new currency post-independence (37%) would make them more or less likely to support Scottish independence. 

27% say if Rishi Sunak were Prime Minister at the time of a referendum it would make them more likely to support independence, although 48% still say it would make them neither more nor less likely either way. Likewise, 51% say if Keir Starmer was Prime Minister at the time of a referendum it would also make them neither more nor less likely to support independence.

The next major electoral test for the Scottish parties is the next General Election across the entire United Kingdom, which must be held before January 2025.

When voters are asked who they would vote for if a UK General Election were held tomorrow, the Scottish National Party leads Labour by five points. The Conservative Party, which finished second to the SNP in Scotland in 2019, is in third place, twelve points behind Labour

Altogether the results of our Westminster Voting Intention poll (with changes from 2-5 March in parentheses) are as follows:

Scottish National Party 36% (-3)
Labour 31% (+2)
Conservative 19% (-3)
Liberal Democrat 10% (+4)
Green 2% (–)
Reform 2% (–)
Other 1% (–)

Overall, the Labour Party remains the most favourably viewed party in Scotland, holding a net favourability rating of +11% (+1).

The SNP (+3%) gains four points in net favourability from our previous poll and is the second most favourably viewed party. All other parties hold negative net favourability ratings, with an outright majority having an unfavourable view of the Conservative Party (55%). 

68% of Scottish voters cite the economy as one of the three most important issues that would determine how they would vote in a General Election, ahead of the NHS (63%). 

Only 22% of respondents cite Scottish Independence/The Union as one of the three issues that would most determine their vote if a General Election was held tomorrow. Even among 2019 SNP voters Scottish Independence is only the third most commonly selected issue (39%) behind the NHS and the economy (both on 66%).

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak receives a net approval rating of -13%, up two points from his rating last month. Our poll finds 39% (-3) of Scots disapprove of his overall job performance against 26% (-1) who approve. 

Sunak’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, is viewed more negatively, although his net rating improves seven points from last month. 37% (-3) disapprove of Hunt’s performance as Chancellor, compared to 21% (+4) who approve, giving him a net approval rating of -16% (+7). 

Asked their view on the UK Government, a majority of Scots (61%, +1) say the current UK Government is incompetent. Only 19% (+4) view the UK Government as competent.

On its policy performance, Scottish voters give the UK Government negative net approval ratings on every policy issue listed, including on the NHS (-54%), the economy (-42%), and housing (-40%).

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s net approval rating in Scotland stands at +8%, down two points from our previous poll. 35% (-3) of Scottish voters approve of Starmer’s job performance, against 27% (-1) who disapprove. 

When asked which would be a better Prime Minister between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, 38% (-4) of Scottish voters say Keir Starmer and 31% (+7) say Rishi Sunak. 31% (-3) say they don’t know.

The next Scottish Parliamentary Election is currently a distant prospect, not being due until May 2026.

However, when voters are asked who they would vote for if a Scottish Parliamentary Election were held tomorrow, the Scottish National Party leads both in constituency and regional list voting intention polls

Altogether the results of our Holyrood Constituency Voting Intention poll (with changes from 2-5 March in parentheses) are as follows:

Scottish National Party 38% (-2)
Scottish Labour 28% (-1)
Scottish Conservatives 18% (-2)
Scottish Liberal Democrats 10% (+3)
Scottish Green Party 3% (+1)
Reform UK Scotland 2% (–)
Other 2% (+1) 

The Scottish National Party also leads when voters are asked who they would vote for on their regional list ballot. The SNP is on 30% (+1), with Labour in second on 24% (-2), and the Scottish Conservatives on 19% (-1).

Humza Yousaf became Leader of the Scottish National Party and First Minister of Scotland last week following Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation from both roles in February.

Yousaf starts his new job with a net approval rating of -7%. 23% approve and 30% disapprove of his overall job performance since he became Leader of the SNP, with a further 35% saying they neither approve nor disapprove of his job performance.

Among other party leaders in the Scottish parliament the Conservatives leader, Douglas Ross, holds a net approval rating of -20%, up three points from last month’s poll. The Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, sees a six-point increase in his approval rating, to now stand at +10%.

A plurality (39%, -4) say the current Scottish Government is incompetent, compared to 34% (+2) who say it is competent. 

While earning favourable approval ratings on some issues—including coronavirus (+32%), the environment (+9%), and cultural issues (+7%)—the Scottish Government earns mostly negative ratings for its policy performance, including for its handling of the economy (-10%), drug policy (-15%), the NHS (-16%), housing (-18%), and gender reform (-21%). 

42% disapprove of the Scottish Government’s performance on Scottish independence, compared to 34% who approve. 

Pluralities of Scottish voters say Humza Yousaf would be a better First Minister for Scotland than either Douglas Ross (who he leads 39% to 28%) or Anas Sarwar (who he leads 37% to 28%). 

However, a plurality (39%) of Scottish voters’ think Yousaf will be a worse First Minister for Scotland than Nicola Sturgeon, against only 11% who think he will be better. 32% think he will be about the same as Sturgeon.

39% of 2019 SNP voters think Yousaf will be a worse First Minister than Sturgeon, while only 9% think he will be better.

61% say the way they would vote in an independence referendum is unaffected by Yousaf’s election as First Minister. 19% say they are now more likely to vote ‘yes’ for independence since Yousaf’s election, while 14% say his election makes them less likely to vote ‘yes.’

Finally, majorities of voters say the likelihood of them voting for the SNP in a UK General Election (55%) or a Scottish Parliamentary Election (53%) is unaffected by Yousaf’s election as First Minister.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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