Scottish Independence Betting Trend Cools In Boost For Yes

Scottish Independence Betting Trend Cools In Boost For Yes
© PA
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Edinburgh last year

Boris Johnson travels to Scotland this week to tackle head-on the bubbling political issue of independence north of the border.

The Conservative leader’s team at Downing Street is reported to be in ‘panic mode’ over polling results that show independence is growing in favour across Scotland.

But the UK prime minister is set for a firestorm of criticism as he seeks to dampen the flames of Scottish nationalism.

The SNP, who for almost two decades have had a stronghold over Scottish politics, are pushing for a second referendum after failing to secure independence in 2014.

The party argue that the 2016 Brexit referendum - in which Scotland voted in favour of remain - takes the devolved nation out of EU against its will.

The SNP were said to be drawing up plans for ‘IndyRef2’ as soon as the 2019 general election was concluded, where the party claimed an increase of 13 MPs.

And while a 2020 vote was kiboshed by the coronavirus crisis, political events in the first half of the year have certainly increased appetite for independence.

Yes Vote Would Win

As reported in June, polls suggest Yes could win a second independence vote, were it to take place today.

Yet matters have since been made worse for Johnson after the UK’s top pollster Sir John Curtice said Yes would likely win a second referendum on independence.

“This is the first time in Scottish polling history when one could say ‘if there were an independence referendum today, on the evidence available, the Yes side are narrow favourites’,” he told the What Scotland Thinks podcast.

Betting Trends Halted

A big worry for Johnson is that the trend in Scottish independence betting data has ground to a halt.

Between March and June this year, odds at Boylesports showed a levelling out of chance between Yes and No outcomes in a second independence referendum.

The Yes outcome was actually defying the polls and drifting out.

But in the past month that Yes price at 4/5 has not widened any further, which suggests bettors are growing wise to the mood of the nation and are accordingly backing independence.

So What Can Johnson Do?

This week the PM heads to Scotland to deliver the economic argument for remaining in the union.

He will point to the billions of pounds of furlough money pumped into Scottish business in order to pay those who were unable to work during the coronavirus lockdown.

Johnson will also champion the need to ‘work together’ through this crisis as part of a UK-wide economic plan to get the four nations going again.

But concern remains that the strings for the ‘emotional’ argument of keeping the Union together will struggle to play as loud as the nationalists’. And it may well be sentiment that wins the argument were a second referendum to ever be conducted.

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