English voters oppose sharing the pound with an independent Scotland, want public spending there reduced in the event of a no vote and are broadly pessimistic about future relations between the two countries, according to new research that suggests a hardening of attitudes regardless of the outcome in September's referendum.
The findings of the Future of England Survey 2014 contradict some of the key proposals put forward by the pro-union parties to offer Scotland further powers if independence is rejected.
By an overwhelming margin of more than five to one, English voters agree that, after a no vote, 'Scottish MPs should be prevented from voting on laws that apply only in England'. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have explicitly ruled out implementing the proposal for 'English votes for English laws' set out by the UK government's McKay commission last year.
Over half the respondents also believe that public spending in Scotland should be reduced to the UK average following a no vote, putting them at odds with the commitment of the three main pro-union parties to continue funding in Scotland via the Barnett formula.
David Sparks, chair of the Local Government Association in England, warned last month that the "huge funding discrepancy" between Scotland and England was a "timebomb", and was already creating festering resentment.
The study, undertaken by researchers at Cardiff University and the ESRC Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change, based at the University of Edinburgh, found limited support for Scottish independence among people living in England, with only 19% supporting the proposition. In addition, only 23% believed that an independent Scotland should continue to use the pound, while just over a quarter agreed that the rest of the UK should support an independent Scotland in joining the EU and Nato.
When asked about greater autonomy for Scotland with regard to tax and welfare, however, voters in England were more supportive, with 42% agreeing that the Scottish parliament should be given control over the majority of taxes raised in Scotland, and a further 40% believing that Holyrood should have the power to decide its own policies on benefits.
In terms of the lasting impact of the referendum, only 10% of those surveyed agreed that a yes vote would improve relations between Scotland and England, while 37% agreed with the proposition that even after a no vote, "Scotland and England will continue to drift apart".
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