THE majority of people in England believe they subsidise Scotland , according to a new Lord Ashcroft poll.

Leave voters were the most likely to be of this opinion, especially Tory Leave voters, two thirds of whom say Scotland benefits most from being part of the Union, compared to one in five who think all parts of the UK benefit equally from its membership.

The poll of 1558 English adults found respondents were more likely to think Scotland benefits disproportionately from the Union than Northern Ireland does.

Overall, just over half believe that England subsidises Scotland financially.

The National:

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Tories were the most likely to say that England provides financial support to Scotland – three quarters believe this to be the case, and most of them are unhappy about it.

Although Tory Leavers were also the most likely to say that England subsidises Northern Ireland, there was a notable difference in that they are more likely to be happy with that arrangement.

Scottish Government measures to ensure free university education and prescription charges were cited as reasons for a negative view of Scotland, the study said.

Other complaints centred on the perceived unfairness of the Barnett formula and notions that Scots “hate the English”.

The National:

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The Ashcroft report states: “The widespread view that the English ‘pay for Scotland’ goes hand-in-hand with the knowledge that Scots get certain things – free NHS prescriptions and free university education – that are not available in England: in other words, that English taxpayers are paying for the Scots to have things that they don’t get themselves.”

“Moreover, it rankled with some of our English voters that Scotland seemed to show little affinity for the Union they felt they were paying to maintain: ‘It’s always Scotland. They say ‘I’m not British, I’m Scottish’; ‘With the Barnett Formula they come out ahead, and they’re still moaning’; ‘I’ve got nothing against Scotland but if they want to be independent let’s stop paying the funds.’ “Indeed, some felt that those who had voted against independence in 2014 had done so for purely economic reasons: ‘My Scottish friends are worried about their pensions if they become independent. They hate the English’; ‘I don’t think the people who voted to stay were particularly attached – I think they just thought it was in their best interests.’”

The National:

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Pro-EU English voters tended to believe that Brexit makes Scottish independence more likely, while Leave voters think it makes no difference, the poll found.

The report added: “Many English Leave voters saw many parallels between some Scots’ desire for self-determination and their own wish to leave the EU: ‘It’s similar in the way we want to control our own destiny. Scotland want their independence, we want our independence from the EU for roughly the same reasons … Taking back control.’ “Remain voters also sympathised – especially with the wish not to be ‘taken out’ of the EU – but often ascribed more noble motives to the independence movement: ‘With Brexit, a lot of it was prejudice, ‘we don’t want foreigners in our country’. With Scotland it’s not as emotional.’”

Recent polling carried out in September by Lord Ashcroft found a majority for Scottish independence.

When asked, 43% said they hoped Scotland remained part of the Union.

The focus groups in the Ashcroft poll were conducted with voters of different political outlooks in Bexley, south-east London, and Newcastle upon Tyne.

The report in its entirety can be read here.