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Poll suggests Salmond inquiry driving voters away from Scottish independence

First minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, leaves her home in Glasgow to head to Holyrood in Edinburgh to give evidence to the Scottish parliament's inquiry into her government's unlawful investigation of the former first minister Alex Salmond - Credit: PA

Support for Scottish independence has taken a hit after a poll suggested a lead for the ‘no’ side following the Alex Salmond inquiry.

The survey by Savanta ComRes is the first to take place after the evidence given to the Scottish parliament inquiry by Nicola Sturgeon and Salmond over the government’s handling of sexual harassment complaints against the former first minister.

The new polling shows that a small majority for ‘No’ if a second referendum takes place, with 46% against independence, 43% supporting the case, and 10% unsure.

With the don’t knows excluded this would give ‘No’ a 52% lead and ‘Yes’ receiving 48% of support.

Asked what issues voters most impacted their view on independence was the Salmond inquiry, with 35% saying it would make them “less likely” to vote Yes.

But 16% still said the inquiry made it more likely they would vote Yes, with 41% saying it had little impact on their decision to back it.

Furthermore, 43% said their trust in Sturgeon had fallen due to the inquiry with trust in Salmond falling even more – 57% stated they believed him less than before the inquiry began.

Associate director for Savanta ComRes, Chris Hopkins, said although there was more awareness of the inquiry it was not yet “catastrophic” for Sturgeon.

He said: “Although awareness of the Salmond inquiry has unsurprisingly increased since December, it’s not to say that the story has had a great impact on its protagonists, with those who say that they trust both Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond more and less now increasing by virtually the same proportions.

“With only a fifth of 2014 No voters less likely to support independence because of the saga, it’s impact on the first minister doesn’t look to be catastrophic – for now.”

SNP Depute Leader, Keith Brown MSP, said the poll should be “treated with caution” due to the figures released not being properly weighted for voter turnout.

He said: “With Scotland on Sunday / Savanta Comres themselves stating that this poll is not comparable to previous polls and has not been properly weighted, it should be treated with caution. However unlike other parties, the SNP never takes the voters, their support or their support for independence for granted.