Scotland election odds: Nicola Sturgeon majority ‘up in the air’ as IndyRef2 support wanes

Scotland 'has no mandate for second referendum' says Carlaw

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Nicola Sturgeon and her party have come under increasing fire recently following allegations they are prioritising their independence referendum agenda over Scotland’s post-pandemic recovery. Scots will head out to the ballot box on Thursday to cast their vote for Holyrood, and while the SNP is almost certain to retain their position of power, whether they will glide through with a majority is still very much in question. Ms Sturgeon and her fellow party leaders; Douglas Ross for the Conservatives; Anas Sarwar for Labour; Willie Rennie for the Liberal Democrats and Patrick Harvie for the Scottish Greens, debated topical issues on the BBC last night.

Ms Sturgeon denied she would push heavily for a referendum on independence if the SNP wins a majority on Thursday, backtracking from her previous stance.

The First Minister spoke as she came under fire from Scottish Tory leader MR Ross, who claimed the SNP would hold an “illegal” referendum if Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to give formal consent.

But Ms Sturgeon responded saying the party wouldn’t go through with it, accusing Mr Ross of spreading “smears and untruths” about her position on independence.

She added: “What I have said consistently all along – sometimes to criticism from people on my own side of the argument – is that I would not countenance an illegal referendum, not least because it would not deliver independence.

“I want Scotland in the fullness of time and in due course to become an independent country.

“I will be responsible about that and I will build, and ultimately I think win, the case for independence through patient persuasion of people across the country.”

However, while Ms Sturgeon said this in the debate on Tuesday, her stance has long been to have a referendum by the end of 2023, only two years from now.

The First Minister admitted the referendum may have to be pushed back one year to the end of 2024 or beyond if the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t subside by that time, but that’s just three years from now and Scotland remains in a dire economic and social situation.

Many have criticised Ms Sturgeon and the SNP for this stance, including other party leaders who slammed her plans in the first televised debate some weeks ago.

The electorate seems to have picked up on the Holyrood tensions and malaise as Ms Sturgeon’s chances of bagging a majority on Thursday have plummeted in recent weeks following a focus on independence.

Scottish voters have become less than enthusiastic at the prospect of another referendum in the next five years, according to a new poll for Sky News.

The poll, which sampled 1.015 Scottish voters between April 28 and May 3, shows the proportion who want another vote is now 42 percent, down seven points since last month.

Going even further, the proportion wanting a vote within two years has dropped five points to 28 percent while the number who want it within two to five years is down two points at 14 percent.

Overall, 32 percent say there shouldn’t be another independence referendum at all, which makes it likely Mr Johnson will resist a second bid by the SNP if they win on Thursday.

Scotland has already voted on the question of independence, the result of which showed 55 percent were in favour of remaining in the union and 45 percent against.

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The dominant issue has been put back on the agenda by Brexit – as Scotland voted 62 percent to 38 percent to stay in the EU and the UK left anyway – and particularly heightened by Westminster’s decision to take the UK out of the EU single market and customs union.

In its manifesto for the 2016 Scottish parliament elections, which took place shortly before the referendum, the SNP argued that “Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will” would justify a second independence vote.

The SNP’s pre-pandemic general election manifesto in 2019 stated the party intended to hold another referendum in 2020, and after winning 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats Ms Sturgeon formally requested the power to hold an independence referendum.

The Prime Minister refused on the grounds that key pro-independence figures said the 2014 vote was a “once in a generation opportunity” – an opinion shared by many.

Betting firm Sporting Index has the odds of the SNP winning a majority at evens, while the opposite stands at 5/6.

The odds of the SNP winning most seats in the election stands at 1/200, compared to the Conservatives’ 50/1.

Phil Fairclough at Sporting Index told Express.co.uk: “Thursday’s election looks to be a done deal for the SNP to gain the most seats at 1/200.

“However, a clear majority looks to be up in the air at this stage and Nicola Sturgeon’s party are odds-on at 5/6 to not land the majority.

“Sturgeon is Even money to repeat the 2016 result and land the majority, but from what we’ve seen so far surrounding the independence issue, this doesn’t look as likely as we might have thought earlier in the year.”

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