Support for Scottish independence is higher than ever - but it still seems a Yes vote is far from certain.
According to the latest ScotCen Scottish social attitudes survey there is a “much higher” level of support for independence “than ever existed beforehand”, but a YouGov poll published on Wednesday suggests this support is still not enough to see Scotland leave the United Kingdom.
The ScotCen survey, according to the Press Association, recorded support for independence at 46% in 2016, compared to 39% the previous year and 23% in 2012, the year the previous referendum campaign began.
Scottish external affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “These findings show that support for independence is now at its highest ever level in this series of surveys undertaken since 1999, with independence now the single most popular of all constitutional options.
“Support for independence is now at double the level it was in 2012, while only 8% of people do not want any kind of Scottish Parliament at all.”
Looking at levels of support for leaving the UK among different age groups, the research - which questioned 1,237 people between July and December 2016 - said the age gap in support for independence “seems to have widened somewhat”.
But, according to a YouGov poll for the Times, Scottish voters are still opposed to independence.
The survey found 57% of voters backed staying inside the UK and 43% wanted independence, once “don’t knows” and those not prepared to vote were excluded.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared on Monday that she is to seek to hold a second referendum.
She accused Prime Minister Theresa May of ignoring Scotland over Europe after 62% of people north of the border voted to remain last June.
The ScotCen research also suggested Scots are now “more sceptical about the EU” than before the 2016 Brexit vote was held.
Scotland “emerged from the EU referendum even more sceptical about the EU than it had been at the outset of the referendum campaign”, according to the research, with 67% either wanting the UK to quit Europe and seek to reduce the amount of power Brussels holds.
“A referendum that is called on the basis that independence would enable Scotland to remain part of the EU may not necessarily provide the most propitious circumstances for nationalists to win a second referendum after all,” it said.
In reference to the ScotCen survey, Scottish Labour Westminster spokesman Ian Murray said: “This impartial report underlines that our country is divided enough.
“We must not be divided again by the SNP’s obsession for a second independence referendum.
“Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t have answers on Europe and this report makes clear that Scotland’s attitudes towards this is much more complex than the SNP would admit.”