By Michael Blackley
SCOTS want more powers for Holyrood rather than separation f rom the rest of the UK, a poll shows. More than four in ten people want Scotland to remain part of the UK with increased powers on matters such as income tax, business taxes and most welfare spending.
The findings make remaining in the Union a more popular option than separation or the status quo.
The SNP has yet to confirm whether or not there will be a second question on the ballot paper offering more powers f or the devolved Scottish parliament.
But the Ipsos Mori poll suggests such an option would reduce support for independence even further.
Separate findings earlier this week showed that only 35 per cent of Scots want independence, down 4 per cent compared to January.
However, the latest poll published yesterday shows that, if the option of extra powers for Holyrood – or Devo Plus – is added, only 29 per cent want independence, a finding which has galvanised campaigners pressing for a second question on the ballot paper.
Jeremy Purvis, the Liberal Democrat MSP who is leader of the Devo Plus group, said: ‘This is the first substantive test of opinion in Scotland on the Devo Plus proposals and shows very clearly the desire of the Scottish people to improve on the status quo but rejecting independence.
‘The evidence is clear that the majority of people would l i ke parties t hat do not support independence to work together to progress the case for Devo Plus.’
The Devo Plus proposals would still leave pensions, VAT and National Insurance Westminster hands.
The Mori poll of 1,000 people found that 41 per cent said the statement ‘Scotland should remain part of the UK with the increased powers outlined by the Devo Plus proposal’ most closely matched their view, compared to 29 per cent who opted for the status quo and 27 per cent who said Scotland should become fully independent.
However, a choice between the three is unlikely to appear on the ballot paper as it would be more likely to be two separate questions.
Most of the main players in the Unionist parties have shunned the Devo Plus drive as they prepare to launch the No campaign, Better Together, on Monday.
They are confident independence would be resoundingly defeated in favour of staying in the UK if there is a straight choice between the two.
Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: ‘It’s difficult to remember the launch of a campaign providing such an enormous bounce f or the opponents.
‘The SNP has achieved what it thought was impossible but what the rest of us already knew – that the more the public consider this issue, the more they come to the conclusion that the UK should remain with Scotland at its heart.’
The poll also found 37 per cent of people said they ‘tend to agree’ those who want to stay in the UK should campaign for more powers for Holyrood, while 29 per cent said they ‘strongly agree’. A spokesman f or Bruce Crawford, Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business, said: ‘The terms and timing of the referendum, i ncluding whether there is a “more powers” option, are matters to be decided i n Scotland, not imposed by Westminster.