Picture of Alister Jack, the secretary of state for scotland

Claim there’s ‘no desire’ in Scotland to have EU membership is False

Brexit continues to be a point of controversy in Scotland, and MPs regularly question UK Government representatives at Westminster over the impact of leaving the European Union. 

In an exchange on 11 January, SNP MP Philippa Whitford asked Alister Jack, the secretary of state for Scotland, about Scotland’s route back into the EU. The Dumfries and Galloway MP responded, claiming that rejoining the EU wasn’t what people in Scotland wanted. 

“There’s no desire in Scotland to have membership of the EU”.

Alister Jack MP

Ferret Fact Service looked at this claim and found it False

Ferret Fact Service | Scotland's impartial fact check project


The referendum on the UK’s EU membership took place on 23 June 2016, with 51.9 per cent of UK voters choosing to leave. 

The voting in the referendum varied in different countries within the UK. In England, 53.4 per cent of voters backed leaving the EU, and 52.5 per cent of those in Wales voted to leave. 

However, a majority of voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted to remain in the EU, with 38 per cent voting leave in Scotland and 44.2 per cent in Northern Ireland. 

Scotland had the largest proportion of voters wanting to remain, with 62 per cent. 

What does polling look like since the 2016 EU referendum?

In the six years since the referendum, a number of polls have been conducted looking at the views of Scots on the decision to leave the EU, and whether people in Scotland want to rejoin.

What Scotland Thinks, a non-partisan research centre which collates polling on Scottish attitudes, has tracked the views of Scots since the referendum took place. 

A few different questions have been asked in Scottish polling on EU membership. 

Scots have been asked how they would vote in a hypothetical second referendum, or if the 2016 referendum took place today. 

Polling on this question since 2016 has been consistent in showing support for remain. The latest poll in August 2022 found 65 per cent of Scots supporting remain with only 25 per cent backing leave (with 10 per cent ‘don’t knows’). 

Ferret Fact Service could find no reputable polling with a significant sample size that showed majority support for Scotland leaving Europe. 

A slightly different question, Should the UK rejoin the EU or stay out of the EU?, has also been asked. 

In five polls between 2020 and 2022, support for rejoining was consistently above staying out of the EU. 

A third question, If there was a referendum now on whether the UK should or should not join the EU, how would you vote?, has also been asked in multiple polls. This has also shown Scots polled would favour rejoining the EU instead of remaining outside. 

There appears to have been no significant reduction in support for EU membership in Scotland since 2016. 

Ferret Fact Service verdict: False

Alister Jack’s claim that there’s no desire in Scotland to have membership of the European Union is not correct. Polling since the 2016 referendum, across a series of related questions, has seen support for Scottish membership of the EU. There has not been significant change in the view of Scots polled since the referendum vote itself.

This claim is false
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