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SCOTS: WE'D SPLIT IF TORIES WON POWER; Poll shows most think independence inevitable.

Byline: By RON MOORE

THE majority of Scots voters say independence is inevitable - despite less than a quarter supporting it - according to a new poll.

But 61 per cent say they would vote for separatism if David Cameron's Tories win the next general election.

Sixty per cent said Scotland will eventually break away from the rest of the UK, even though only 23 per cent currently back a split.

Most said they may be forced to vote for separatism in future. The circumstances persuading them to switch include the Conservatives winning power down south or Gordon Brown cutting spending north of the border to silence Westminster's anti-Scots critics.

There was also widespread support for more powers for Edinburgh, with only 20 per cent backing the current devolution set-up.

The new YouGov poll was carried out as First Minister Alex Salmond set out plans for a referendum on independence in a white paper.

It found 74 per cent back a referendum on either independence or a multi-option ballot including more powers for Holyrood.

The biggest resistance to independence was financial, with 35 per cent believing Scots would be worse off.

Half thought an independent Scotland would be as successful as Ireland, where low business taxes have transformed the country into a "Celtic Tiger" economy.

However, 40 per cent think Gordon Brown is a good leader, with just 26 per cent backing Alex Salmond. And 40 per cent of Scots would back Labour in a general election, 31 per cent SNP, 14 per cent Tory and 11 per cent Lib Dem.

SNP finance secretary John Swinney said the poll showed most would vote for independence under "certain circumstances", adding: "This poll is a clear indication that the SNP surge continues."


PLANS: Salmond
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 20, 2007
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