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English say Scots will pay a heavy price for referendum

ENGLAND will demand a high price from Scotland regardless of the referendum outcome, according to a new poll.

BANNER: A St George's Day parade for England's patron saint, but English voters have an uncompromising message for Scots.
BANNER: A St George's Day parade for England's patron saint, but English voters have an uncompromising message for Scots.

Voters south of the Border want a cut to Scottish annual public spending of almost £1,400 per person if there is a No vote, and a refusal to share the pound in the event of independence.

People in England overwhelmingly want Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom, with 59 per cent opposed to independence and 19 per cent in favour.

But the study suggests that the consequences of England's voice being heard following the referendum could be telling, whatever the result.

If there is a No vote, voters in England by a margin of more than four to one - 56 per cent as opposed to 12 per cent - believe levels of public spending in Scotland should be reduced to the UK average.

In 2012/13, public spending per capita in Scotland was £10,327 compared to the UK average of £8,940; meaning a proposed reduction of £1,387. This would imply a cut of more than 10 per cent in Scottish public expenditure.

The key finding if there is a Yes vote is that voters in England oppose an independent Scotland sharing the pound by more than two to one - 53 per cent to 23 per cent.

According to the question posed, this is even without the suggestion of a currency union, and contradicts the assertion made by the SNP that most people across the UK want there to be a currency union should Scotland vote for independence.

The findings, published today, are the result of an online Future of England survey of 3,695 adults undertaken in England in April by YouGov as part of constitutional research by the universities of Edinburgh and Cardiff.

The researchers point out public opinion in England appears to go counter to the commitment of all three main UK parties to continue to fund Scotland through the Barnett Formula, which currently helps produce higher public spending levels north of the Border.

Not unsurprisingly, the Yes camp picked up on the findings on public spending cuts while the No camp focused on those about not sharing the pound.

A spokesman for Yes Scotland said: "It is a real concern for a growing number of Scots that Scotland's budget is in Westminster's crosshairs and waiting to be slashed in the event of a No vote.

"Only last week, Canon Kenyon Wright, the chief architect of Scottish devolution, was warning that the Scottish Parliament will be 'undermined' and that cuts to the Barnett Formula will affect our NHS and social security in an act of 'revenge'." He added: "This poll will do little to put the minds of those worried Scots at ease."

Meanwhile, Jackie Baillie, the Scottish Labour MSP, on behalf of Better Together, said: "It is not surprising the majority of people in England do not support a currency union. It wouldn't work for Scotland or the rest of the UK. For us in Scotland, it would mean handing over control of our economy to what would then be a foreign country."

Stressing that there would not be a currency union if Scotland left the UK, Ms Baillie demanded to know Alex Salmond's Plan B, saying: "With just one week until up to one million postal votes are sent out across Scotland, it beggars belief people are being asked to make such a huge decision without knowing what currency we would use."

In the event of a No vote, other findings were:

l 62 per cent agreed and 12 per cent disagreed with the suggestion Scottish MPs should be banned from voting on England-only laws;

l 42 per cent agreed and 25 per cent disagreed with the idea Holyrood should be given control of most taxes raised in Scotland

l 37 per cent agreed and 21 per cent disagreed with the notion England and Scotland would "continue to drift apart".

In the event of a Yes vote, the survey also found:

l 26 per cent agreed and 36 per cent disagreed with the UK supporting an independent Scotland's bid to join the EU and Nato;

l 10 per cent agreed and 53 per cent disagreed with the claim, put forward by the SNP Government, that UK-Scotland relations would improve;

l 36 per cent agreed while 29 per cent disagreed with the view that the UK's standing in the world would be diminished and

l 69 per cent agreed and 13 per cent disagreed that there should be no border checks between Scotland and England.

The survey found Conservative and Ukip supporters are, in the event of a Yes vote, most opposed to sharing the pound and to supporting an independent ­Scotland's membership of the EU and Nato.

While 70 per cent of Tory and Ukip supporters are in favour of cutting public spending in Scotland, in the event of a No vote, there is also substantial support from those who back Labour, 50 per cent, and those who back the Liberal Democrats, 54 per cent.

Commenting on the research, Professor Charlie Jeffery, of the University of Edinburgh, said: "It is striking how tough people in England are on Scotland whatever the referendum outcome.

"There appears to be little appetite for the Scottish Government's vision of independence amid continuing partnership with the rest of the UK on the pound, Europe and Nato. If anything the message appears to be: 'Vote Yes by all means but if you do, you're on your own.'

"But if Scots vote No, there's something similar at play. Here the message is: 'By all means have more devolution but you can't then have the role at Westminster you do now and don't expect any funding to flow northwards from England.'"

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