The oil price and Scotland’s independence

14 October 2016
What was claimed

The price of oil has fallen from $100 a barrel during the Scottish independence referendum to $50 a barrel. Scottish people now have twice as much reason to reject independence.

Our verdict

The price of oil has fallen from around $90 a barrel to $50. But there isn’t much evidence this has had an impact on the proportion of people saying they would vote for independence.

“I have great faith in the common sense of the Scottish people. They rejected separation when oil was $100 a barrel. They have twice as much reason to do it now that oil is $50 a barrel.”

Damian Green MP, 13 October 2016

It is correct that crude oil prices are currently at around $50 a barrel. Back at the time of the first Scottish independence referendum in September 2014 oil was selling for just over $90 a barrel.

Energy policy, and how oil revenue would be invested, was part of the Scottish government’s vision for an independent Scotland.

We don’t know of any polls that asked the Scottish people what they thought about oil prices during the referendum, but we do know their views on the economy.

Before the referendum roughly a third of people polled thought Scotland’s economy would do better if it was independent and a third felt it would do worse, according to the Scottish Social Attitudes survey.

The last Scottish independence referendum had a turnout of almost 85% of those eligible. 55% of those voters said No to independence and 45% said Yes.

Despite the falling price of oil, these proportions haven’t changed much. A number of polls have suggested that if the independence referendum was run again the result would be similar. Some polls suggest that the proportion of people saying they would vote Yes may even have increased by a few percentage points.

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