Survey: SNP councillors would prefer a Brexit Scotland to a united UK in the EU

Our survey uncovers the heavy price nationalist local government would be prepared to pay for independence.

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Despite the party’s solidly pro-EU policy stances, and in spite of efforts by leader Nicola Sturgeon to trigger another independence referendum on the basis of Scotland’s majority support for remain, SNP councillors surveyed for this week's edition of New Statesman Spotlight, which focuses on Scotland and the Scottish economy, unanimously agreed that they’d prefer to see an independent Scotland outside the EU than a Scotland in a united UK that remained in the EU.

Given the choice of four possible scenarios in which Scotland would be in or out of both the UK and the EU, the overwhelming majority of SNP respondents chose an independent Scotland that remained within the EU as the best constitutional settlement for the country. Most councillors also thought that the worst scenario for Scotland would be to remain part of the UK, but outside the EU.

The survey on Scottish politics and the future of the Scottish economy was sent to all of the more than 1,200 local government councillors representing every local authority in the country. Almost half (47 per cent) of the responses were from SNP councillors. The results are printed in more detail in the latest edition of Spotlight, which comes free with this week's New Statesman.

The SNP has made much of its pro-European stance, demanding, at various points, a seat at the Brexit negotiations, continued membership of the single market for Scotland, and a second independence referendum following the EU referendum (due to the "significant or material change" in Scotland’s constitutional circumstances). The SNP has also argued that an independent Scotland would easily join the EU, despite the opposition this might face from Spain and others, who would not wish to encourage separatist movements in their own countries.