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Research finds English people want Scotland to remain in UK

PEOPLE in England overwhelmingly want Scotland to remain part of the UK, according to a major new study.

Findings published as the referendum campaign enters its final 100 days today revealed a growing desire among the English to remain in a Union with Scotland.

Only one in five people in England (21 per cent) supported Scottish independence, according to figures from the latest British Social Attitudes Survey conducted last year. The figure fell from a quarter the previous year and 26 per cent in 2011, the year of Alex Salmond's landslide Holyrood election victory.

Support for Scottish independence among the English has now returned to the level it was it when the parliament began in 1999.

Nearly half of the 925 people questioned agreed that Scotland "should remain part of the UK" with its own parliament.

A further 18 per cent wanted Scotland in the UK but without devolved powers.

Professor John Curtice, the author of the NatCen Social Research study, said: "Some have argued that a backlash has been developing south of the border against the advantages that Scotland seemingly enjoys and the demands it continues to make.

"But rather than being fuelled by the independence debate, whatever signs there were of such a reaction have apparently been snuffed out.

"England at least seems to have decided that the Union is worth preserving, though whether people in Scotland will take the same view remains to be seen."

In his analysis of the findings, Professor Curtice, a research director with sister organisation ScotCen Social Research, argued there has been "little sign of an English reaction to developments in Scotland".

Asked whether England should remain part of the UK or become an independent country, more than three quarters (78 per cent) backed the present arrangments.

Only around one in six (16 per cent) favoured a go-it-alone England, the same level record in 2007 when NatCen, Britain's largest social research organisation, last posed the question.

The survey revealed low levels of support for devolution of powers to the English-only institutions, despite persistent complaints that Scotland's MPs have too much say in how England's health service and schools are run.

More than half (56 per cent) believed England should be governed "as it is now" by the UK parliament. Around one in five (19 per cent) supported the creation of an English parliament while 15 per cent wanted regional assemblies to run health and other services locally. The study, titled "Does England Want Scotland to Leave or Stay?" is based on the latest British Social Attitudes survey, an annual poll of attitudes which questions thousands of people on a wide range of issues each year.

The full report will be published later this month.

Earlier this year the cross-party No campaign, Better Together, attempted to harness sentiment south of the Border when it launched a campaign dubbed "Please Don't Go".

Fronted by comedian Eddie Izzard it is designed to give people from the rest of the UK a voice in the campaign.

Andy Lythgoe, of the Yes Scotland sub-group English for Yes, suggested people did not want to lose access to Scotland's resources. He said: "People in England understand that Scotland is a very wealthy and valuable country so it is not surprising that fewer people south of the border than in Scotland support Scottish independence.

"However, this referendum is about who is best placed to make decisions about Scotland and the rising number of people who back a Yes vote - 46 per cent in the latest Populus poll for the Financial Times - shows clearly that more and more people believe the answer to that is the people who live and work here."

Speaking on behalf of Better Together, Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: "It's encouraging that so many people living in England recognise the value and strength of the partnership we have as part of the UK. People living in England do not have a vote, but they have a voice and they should feel free to make that heard."

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