The threat to the United Kingdom was laid bare today as a poll found support for Scottish independence has hit 50 per cent.
The population north of the border is now split down the middle over whether to leave the union, according to Panelbase research.
Crucially, voters also seem to believe that the Scottish economy will fare better on its own after Brexit.
The findings in the poll, conducted for the Sunday Times, were seized on by Nicola Sturgeon, who stepped up her demands for a fresh independence referendum.
In interviews at the SNP’s annual conference in Aberdeen, she said the case for leaving the UK was ‘even stronger than it has been’ and she will be formally asking Westminster for permission to hold a ballot within weeks.
‘The biggest risk for Scotland at the moment is a Brexit future,’ she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
She dismissed claims that Scotland will be frozen out of both the UK and the EU, insisting it would be welcomed with ‘open arms’ in Brussels.
The 50-50 split in the Panelbase survey is a record high, and a five point increase on the average backing for independence last year.
The 50-50 split in the Panelbase survey is a record high, and a five point increase on the average backing for independence last year
That level mirrored the 55-45 per cent margin by which independence was defeated in the 2014 referendum – which was meant to be a ‘once in a generation’ event.
The last poll in June showed support for independence at 49 per cent.
Given a choice between No Deal Brexit and an independent Scotland, leaving the union was ahead by 54 per cent to 46 per cent.,
The latest research found 45 per cent of Scots believe the nation will be better off economically as an independent country within the EU rather than staying in the UK after Brexit.
Just over a third (35 per cent) disagreed while one in five (20 per cent) said they did not know.
The findings were released on the morning of the SNP’s autumn conference in Aberdeen, where the party’s Westminster leader is expected to tell delegates Scottish independence will be the focus of any forthcoming general election campaign.
He will say that retaining the party’s majority of Scottish seats at Westminster will re-affirm the mandate to hold another referendum on Scottish independence.
The poll indicates large gains for the SNP at the next general election, with the party on 39 per cent, up one percentage point since June.
The Conservatives are also predicted to gain at 21 per cent, up three percentage points since June, while Labour are on 19%, up two.
The Liberal Democrats are unchanged on 13 per cent and the Greens unchanged on 2 per cent, while the Brexit Party was on 5 per cent, down four percentage points since June.
The findings in the poll were seized on by Nicola Sturgeon (pictured on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show today), who has been demanding a fresh independence referendum
Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, told the Sunday Times the Conservatives face losing more than half of their Scottish seats.
He calculates the SNP will win 48 seats – up from 35 at the 2017 general election – with the Scottish Tories falling from 13 to five, Labour from seven to one, and the Lib Dems rising from four to five.
:: Panebase surveyed 1,003 voters in Scotland between Wednesday and Friday
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