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UK Government officials have told Express.co.uk the rising support for Scottish independence is “quite concerning” with the Prime Minister now considering a new strategy to keep the country united. Extracts of recent polling data Express.co.uk has learnt shows support for independence sits at “the mid to high fifies mark” backing recent polls of between 52 and 54 percent commissioned by pro-indy groups.
The UK Government’s polling data was recently presented to politicians by Mark McInnes, Baron McInnes of Kilwinning, the director of the Scottish Conservatives and gathered by Downing Street polling guru James Kanagasooriam.
A Government insider revealed to Express.co.uk on Thursday night the data “has concerned” Boris Johnson and his Cabinet stressing it was “a priority” to address the trends ahead of the Holyrood polls next year.
The source added: “Another round of visits North of the Border are on the table very soon.”
Mr Johnson visited Orkney and Moray in flash one-day visit in July and he was quickly followed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove, Alok Sharma and Treasury Secretary Stephen Barclay.
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Whilst the focus has been on the UK Internal Market Bill and securing a Brexit trade deal, members of Boris’s Johnson’s Cabinet are expected to be visiting Scotland in the coming weeks to address recent independence pledges made by the SNP led administration in Holyrood.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the SNP’s draft independence Bill will set out the proposed question people will be asked in a new poll as she announced her programme for government to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.
Ms Sturgeon said at next year’s Holyrood election she will “make the case for Scotland to become an independent country, and seek a clear endorsement of Scotland’s right to choose our own future”.
Responding to the First Minister’s pledge, the UK Government offical stressed: “We are focusing on the importance of the four nations and how Scotland is beneficial in the Union, the COVID-19 pandemic has already proved this.”
Keith Brown MSP, SNP Depute Leader, said tonight: “The Tories are clearly rattled by the fact that independence is becoming the settled will of a majority of people in Scotland.
“That trend is only set to increase with the UK Government showing absolutely no sign it is prepared to or listen to Scotland’s democratic wishes, or respect the will of our parliament.
“Panicked visits to Scotland to take part in cheap photo opportunities – at the same time as refusing to publish polling findings – is hardly the approach of a leader confident in the strength of his party’s arguments.
“No wonder more and more Scots believe Scotland’s future is best served as an independent country.”
Professor John Curtice, Scottish political polling guru and professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde added: “Since July, the UK Government has had Scotland on it’s radar. They are not going to turn this [Rise of independence support] around on their own.
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“The UK Government desperately need the Labour Party to revive support as they are much more likely to take votes off the SNP than the Tories are.”
But Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross who is seen as a close ally to Mr Johnson in Scotland said it was important to remember that “we have two governments.”
In a direct warning to the SNP, the Moray MP said: “People in Scotland want our governments to work together. Our politics is more polarised than ever before.”
The latest polls show that 54 percent of Scots are in favour of leaving the UK with widespread praise for SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, according to Panelbase and ComRes polls.
Mr Johnson has come under severe pressure from Holyrood over the UK Internal Market Bill in recent days after Constitution Secretary Michael Russell suggested legal action was not off the table to take against controversial proporsal.
Mr Russell said: “I have not ruled out any actions at all and I hear clearly what you are saying.
“There are maybe a range of legal options in front of us but I wouldn’t like to go any further than that at this stage.”
Mr Johnson was forced to defend the legislation in the House of Commons however stressing the laws provided a “legal safety net” to protect against “extreme or irrational interpretations” of the Northern Ireland provisions of the agreement which could lead to the creation of “a border down the Irish Sea”.
Downing Street declined to comment tonight.
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