According to the BBC, Nicola Sturgeon is set to decide on whether she will support a new vote by the end of 2018. This was followed by a YouGov/Times poll, which suggested that 57% of Scots backed remaining in the union, as reported here by HITC.
Recent events may have kicked a new vote into the long grass, and while the SNP have struggled in recent polls, it is probably still a case of when a referendum will take place rather than if. Here are the five favourite years for a new referendum to take place, according to PaddyPower’s betting odds (19th January).
5th – 2021
Out of the next five years, 2021 is seen as the least likely year probably for two good reasons. Firstly, 2021 is also the year in which Scotland is next due an election in which recent polls indicate that the pro-independence parties could lose their majority. Secondly, the next UK general election is due in early 2022, something that could dampen coverage of a new independence vote. PaddyPower offer odds of 12/1 for a 2021 outcome, making it seem unlikely.
4th – 2020
2020 is currently the fourth favourite year for a new vote. This will be one year after Brexit and during the transitional arrangement between the UK and the EU (assuming a final deal is reached). PaddyPower offer odds of 8/1 for this outcome.
3rd – 2018
The third favourite option is 2018. On one hand, a late 2018 vote after the UK-EU deal is agreed but before the UK exits the EU is probably the SNP’s ideal scenario as voters will have all the information about what a Brexit deal will look like while still being inside both unions. However, considering that the first minister has said she will decide about a new vote by the end of 2018, the time-frame for a vote would be incredibly short. The odds of a 2018 referendum? 6/1.
2nd – 2019
PaddyPower offers odds of 5/1 for a 2019 vote. Such a vote could take place in January or February – or even as late as March – if Sturgeon decides to go for a new vote before Brexit day. If that were to happen and if Scotland voted yes, there would be very little time to deal with the consequences before the UK leaves the EU. However, a new vote could take place in late 2019 once Brexit has taken effect.
1st – 2022 (or later)
The favourite year(s) for a new vote is some time in the future. If Nicola Sturgeon opts not to go for a new vote in the coming years, winning a majority with the Greens in 2021 would give the SNP a mandate for a new vote. However, if the parties lost their majority, independence could be kicked into much longer grass.