THE choice for Scotland in a second independence referendum will be “much bigger” than the one faced in 2014, Professor John Curtice has said.

The British Polling Council president further said that the “long-term legacy” of the independence vote eight years ago was that while the No side won the ballot, the Yes side won the campaign.

Curtice said that this was evidenced by rising support for independence in the wake of the 2014 vote, hitting historic highs during the Covid pandemic in 2020.

He further said that polling showed “independence is now very much a younger person’s project”.

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The politics professor was speaking at an event looking into Scotland’s Constitutional Future at Glasgow University. Organised by the UK in a Changing Europe research group, the event saw experts and academics discuss the issues facing Scotland and the UK, including currency, deficits, and borders.

Curtice told attendees that Scotland was evenly divided on the question of independence, adding: “If anyone tells you that they know what the outcome would be if there were to be a referendum tomorrow they are a fool because of course none of us know.”

He said that the independence debate had become closely intertwined with the Brexit debate, something which had not been the case in 2014.

Curtice told the conference: “Those of you who remember the 2014 referendum will remember that the politicians spent hours and hours arguing about whether or not an independent Scotland could or could not be a continued member of the European Union. They were wasting their breath.

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“There was no relationship in 2014 between people’s attitudes to the European Union and whether they voted Yes or No. There was no relationship between how people voted in 2014 and how people voted in 2016. But that has changed.

“Now, those people who would vote Remain are effectively three times more likely to be in favour of independence than those who voted Leave. The two issues have become intertwined, not only for politicians but also for the general public. And that reflects a crucial difference between the choice that Scotland would face if there were to be an independence referendum now and the choice that we faced in 2014.

“The choice now, certainly for those on the Yes side, is do you want to be inside the UK but outside the European Union, or do you want to be in the EU but outside the UK. That is a much bigger choice than the one that was faced in 2014.”

Speaking later at the same event, former SNP MP and current political practice professor Stephen Gethins said there was a “profound” choice between two unions being presented to the Scottish public.

“I wonder if we can have this kind of Brexit and this kind of Union as well,” Gethins said. “I wonder if thoughtful people who are pro-Union have fully taken into account the implications of that Brexit vote.”

Curtice also looked at polling on whether people wanted a second independence referendum. However, he said the issue of holding a second vote was largely just a proxy for the real debate.

“The debate about process is simply a surrogate for the debate about substance,” Curtice said, referencing how more than 90% of No voters do not want indyref2 while more than 90% of Yes voters do want it.