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The English and Welsh want Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom by a clear majority, even though they think the Scots get a better financial deal from the relationship, according to a Financial Times poll.
The Populus survey confirms David Cameron’s contention that relatively few people south of the border believe “that this marriage of nations has run its course and needs a divorce”.
Only 15 per cent of English and Welsh people who expressed a strong preference want a split, against 55 per cent who want Scotland to stay. Another 30 per cent had no strong opinion.
The display of cross-border affection comes in a week in which Barack Obama, US president, said he wanted the UK to remain “a robust, united, effective partner”.
But the survey suggests fraternal feelings might come under pressure if nationalists win September’s independence referendum. English and Welsh respondents strongly are opposed to sharing the pound with a separate Scotland if this means taxpayers underwriting Scottish banks.
The poll found that 68 per cent of people in England and 59 per cent in Wales opposed an independent Scotland continuing to use sterling while retaining the Bank of England as its central bank and lender of last resort.
Pollsters said in the question on currency that such an arrangement would involve the rest of the UK picking up part of the bill for a bailout if an independent Scotland suffered a financial crisis. Only 17 per cent in England and Wales supported the idea, while it was backed by 61 per cent in Scotland.
A spokesperson for John Swinney, Scottish government finance secretary, said many experts backed a currency union. He also cited one poll last year that suggested 71 per cent of people in England and Wales would support the idea.
“The question asked here failed to mention any of the mutual benefits of a currency union and was clearly designed to paint a currency union in the most negative light possible,” the spokesperson said. “Despite this, a clear majority of people in Scotland support keeping the pound as an independent country.”
Ian Murray, Scottish Labour MP and shadow business minister, said the Populus poll added to “overwhelming evidence” that people elsewhere in the UK did not back a currency union, which has already been ruled out by the UK government and the main opposition parties.
“Experts have said it wouldn’t be good for Scotland or the rest of the UK. Now we know the people living elsewhere in the UK oppose it too,” Mr Murray said.
“Continuing to use the pound is not just [Scotland’s First Minister] Alex Salmond’s decision and these results show he needs a plan B for what would replace the pound.”
The poll of more than 6,000 people in Scotland, England and Wales found that roughly two-thirds of people across all three nations expect the Scots to vote No to independence in the referendum on September 18.
While only a small minority of English and Welsh respondents hoped Scotland would vote to leave the UK, the split in Scotland was 47/40 in favour of staying, confirming a continuing slender lead for the No campaign.
The support for the 307-year-old union across England and Wales was in spite of the fact that two-thirds of respondents south of the border felt that Scots were getting a better deal.
“While nearly three-fifths of Scots think the rest of the UK gets more public spending per head of population, two-thirds of English people think the opposite is true,” said Rick Nye of Populus, which also carries out polling for the pro-union Better Together campaign.
Per capita public spending in Scotland is considerably higher than the UK average. Scotland’s per capita tax revenues are also higher if a geographic share of North Sea oil revenues is included and nationalists stress that in most years this has meant Scotland’s net contribution has reduced overall UK per capita debt levels.
The poll found that 50 per cent of Scots thought the country would regret an independence vote in five years’ time. In England, 79 per cent of people thought Scots would regret a split.
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