Boris Johnson is driving swing voters towards backing independence, a new poll has found.
The prime minister’s leadership style was disliked by more than three quarters of Scots polled last month.
The poll, carried out by Theresa May’s former pollster James Johnson, gave independence a 56 to 44% lead, excluding those who said they did not know.
Brexit and the UK government’s handling of the pandemic were among the most persuasive arguments for independence, but none more so than the argument: “Boris Johnson is not the leader I want to have for my country” — a sentiment 79% of swing voters agreed with.
Worryingly for Number 10, the POLITICO commissioned study also found that the UK government’s opposition to granting a second independence referendum would prove unpopular should Nicola Sturgeon win a majority in next May’s Holyrood elections, with 53% of voters saying that a second poll should be granted in such an instance.
James Johnson, founder of J.L. Partners, told POLITICO that the picture was “bleak” for unionists.
He said: “It is hard not to look at these figures and assume the Union is doomed. It is certainly the gravest situation the Unionist cause has found itself in in recent history.”
Should a second referendum be held, the choice of spokespeople for the unionist campaign will be crucial, the polling suggests.
Among Conservative union advocates, only Chancellor Rishi Sunak and former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson are viewed favourably.
“The chancellor has a net rating of +30 with Scottish swing voters, higher than Keir Starmer, Gordon Brown, Alex Ferguson, and even the Queen,” Mr Johnson said.
“In focus groups Boris Johnson is not just criticized in the way David Cameron and Theresa May were,” Mr Johnson added, “but loathed.”
The poll is the 11th in a row which shows majority support for Scottish independence.
Responding to the poll, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said next year’s Scottish Parliament elections would be “the most important in Scotland’s history.”
He said: “No one should be complacent. The only poll that matters is on election day – and every vote will count.”
The comments came as Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey revealed his party’s alternative to the SNP’ s “distraction” of independence.
He will use his speech to the Scottish Liberal Democrats virtual conference this weekend to claim the “failing SNP Government” in Edinburgh has been “distracted by its pursuit of independence”.
And while he will say he understands why people want “any alternative” to Mr Johnson’s “cruel and incompetent Tory Government”, he will argue that the offer of a more federal UK advanced by the Lib Dems would give Scots “more control over their own lives”.