A MAJORITY of Scots want to leave the European single market and restrict immigration for EU citizens after Brexit, a new survey suggests.

The research, carried out by Sir John Curtice for the National Centre for Social Research, appears to contradict assumptions that Scots have a more liberal attitude towards the European Union and freedom of movement than residents in England.

It shows that Scottish voters believe powers on immigration and trade should remain UK-wide and controlled by Whitehall – 63 and 67 per cent respectively.

Loading article content

While powers over fishing and farming should be under the control of the Scottish Government – 62 and 59 per cent respectively.

READ MORE: No 10 dismisses suggestion May reshuffle shambolic as "new generation" appointed

And the study of Scottish attitudes also suggests there has been a “swing against independence” in recent months.

In a similar survey in February, some 48 per cent of people said they voted Yes in the 2014 referendum and 47 per cent said they would so the same today while in the latest one conducted in October the respective numbers were 49 and 44 per cent.

On Brexit, the snapshot notes how Scots – who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU – often exhibit similar views on Europe to voters elsewhere in Britain, citing how just like the country as a whole, a “majority of people in Scotland would prefer to see an end to freedom of movement with the EU”.

The findings show 59 per cent of voters in Scotland thought potential EU migrants to the UK should have to apply to come here compared to 64 per cent of voters across Britain as a whole.

“Contrary to the presumption of the Scottish Government, most voters in Scotland are not keen to see Scotland remain in the single market and thus continue freedom of movement, should the rest of the UK leave it,” the study said.

“Only if the UK is faced with a choice between ending freedom of movement and maintaining free trade will voters in Scotland be inclined to give a somewhat different answer from their counterparts south of the border.”

READ MORE: Theresa May to set out grand plan to tackle "throwaway culture"

On this, the snapshot says 63 per cent of people in Scotland would be willing to allow free movement of people in return for free trade compared to 53 per cent of people across Britain as a whole.

The survey undertaken between September and October interviewed by internet and telephone a random sample of 859 people, who were first interviewed for the annual Scottish Social Attitudes survey. It was conducted in parallel with a similar exercise involving 2,168 people across Britain as a whole.

Sir John, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, said: “Our results suggest that both the UK and the Scottish Government may need to do some rethinking of their plans for post-Brexit Scotland.

“The UK Government’s proposal that EU responsibilities for devolved areas such as fishing and farming should in the first instance at least be given to Westminster appears to be out of tune with the public mood north of the border.

“But equally, the Scottish Government appears to have made little headway in persuading voters that Scotland should have a closer relationship with the EU post-Brexit. Most still think the rules on EU trade and immigration should be the same in Scotland as in the rest of the UK.”

The two governments and political parties interpreted the findings in different ways.

A UK Government spokesman noted how the research “shows the majority of people in Scotland support UK-wide arrangements on trade and immigration,” noting how Scotland’s exports to the rest of the UK were worth four times more than that with the EU.

READ MORE: Ministers warn EU against trade barriers in Germany charm offensive

Michael Russell, the Scottish Government’s Brexit Minister, said he was “pleased to see this research shows people in Scotland believe decisions on all devolved issues should continue to be made here in Scotland” and argued that maintaining free movement was “vital” to maintaining Scotland’s working age population and to its longer term economic growth.

His Nationalist colleague Stephen Gethins, the SNP’s Europe spokesman, said: “What is very encouraging is that the majority of respondents are clear that they do trust Holyrood to make decisions in areas that the Tories want to grab for Westminster.”

But Scottish Conservative MP Ross Thomson stressed how the survey showed Nicola Sturgeon’s “arrogant” claim that she spoke for Scotland on Brexit was wrong. “One million Scots voted to leave the European Union and this poll shows most Scots are not keen to stay in the single market if the rest of the UK is leaving,” he declared.

Meanwhile, it emerged that the UK Government missed Tuesday’s deadline to change its flagship Brexit Bill ahead of next week’s Report Stage in a bid to allay fears that it is a “power-grab” from the Scottish Parliament.

Senior Whitehall sources said it was “regrettable” and that its commitment to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill was “absolute”; it will now seek to change the legislation as it progresses through the House of Lords.

READ MORE: No 10 dismisses suggestion May reshuffle shambolic as "new generation" appointed

One insider explained how the resignation of Damian Green, the First Secretary, following the sexual harassment probe, and the Christmas recess meant it was not possible to draw up amendments in time. David Mundell spoke to Mr Russell on Tuesday to explain the situation in what was described as a “perfectly convivial” phonecall.

However, the SNP was outraged. Mr Gethins said: “The Tories are engaged in a blatant Brexit power-grab and David Mundell’s failure to do as he promised means he is guilty of selling out Scotland.”