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Scots Independence Poll Shows More Voters Undecided on U.K.

Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Voters in Scotland are becoming more undecided over whether the country should gain independence from the U.K., with support for going it alone unchanged and opposition to it declining, a new poll showed.

Backing for independence is 28 percent, the same as three months ago, according to a TNS BMRB poll published in today’s Glasgow-based Herald newspaper. Those wanting to stay in the U.K. represented 48 percent, down from 53 percent, as the proportion of people who haven’t made up their mind rose five percentage points to 24 percent of respondents.

Independence is the cornerstone policy of Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party. The poll shows that support for independence hasn’t changed since Salmond signed an agreement with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron in October to hold a referendum in the fall of 2014.

The 20 percentage-point lead in favour of the status quo is more than double the nine points a year ago, according to the pollster. The inclusion of 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds, who get to vote in the referendum, in the latest survey hasn’t had any effect on the findings, TNS BMRB said.

The referendum will contain a single “yes” or “no” question. Cameron said he will consider enhanced powers for the Scottish parliament in the event of a “no” vote.

More Scrutiny

The Scottish government, the semi-autonomous administration in Edinburgh, faced questions over the past three months over whether it hadn’t sought legal advice about its claim that an independent Scotland would automatically become a member of the European Union. Its proposals that the new state would keep the British pound and use the Bank of England as lender of last resort came under increasing scrutiny from U.K. lawmakers.

The level of support for independence is in line with other polls. An Ipsos MORI survey published in the London-based Times newspaper in October showed 30 percent backing for quitting the status quo with 58 percent opposed.

TNS BMRB spoke with 1,012 people between Jan. 3 and Jan. 9 in 55 Scottish Parliament constituencies, the company said. No margin of error was given.

Support for independence was greatest, at 35 percent, in the Highlands and Islands region, while it was lowest in the west of Scotland, at 18 percent. The highest proportion of people who didn’t know which way to vote was in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the two biggest cities. In the Lothians area, which includes Edinburgh, 38 percent of people were undecided, while the ratio was 37 percent in Glasgow, TNS BMRB said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Woodifield in Edinburgh at pwoodifield@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Lytle at dlytle@bloomberg.net

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