Constition Secretary Michael Russell spoke out yesterday on the 23rd anniversay of the devolution referendum to bring about the creation of the Scottish Parliament, which coincided with a Survation poll which shows 53 per cent in favour of breaking with the Union, with 47 per cent against.
It backs up the findings of a number of polls since the start of the year which show a majority of people in Scotland back independence.
Mr Russell said the Internal Market Bill published by the UK government this week – which has been described as an attack on devolution by the SNP – underlines the need for constitutional change.
He said: “It is now clearer than ever that only independence can protect the Scottish Parliament, and if the people back an independence referendum in next year’s Scottish Parliament election, no Westminster government has a right to block it.
“Independence offers a better, brighter and safer future for Scotland.”
The poll result is the latest in a series of surveys since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic showing a majority of people in Scotland are in favour of independence, including one by Panelbase which held support at 55 per cent last month.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has so far refused to agree to the idea of allowing a second referendum on independence. This represents a stumbling block for Nationalists because Westminster has control over the constitution under the devolution settlement.
But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that a new draft bill paving the way for a possible second Scottish independence referendum will be published before next May’s Holyrood elections, setting out the “terms and timing” of a future vote.
She insists that if an SNP majority is returned at next year’s Holyrood election, the UK government’s opposition to a seccond referendum will be unsustainable in the longer term.
Survation conducted an online poll of 1,018 people aged over 16 living in Scotland, between 2 September and 7 September. They were asked: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the pro-independence Greens said: “It’s never been clearer that Scotland’s future must be in Scotland’s hands.”
A survey undertaken by the polling company before the pandemic in January found a 50/50 split for independence and remaining in the Union.
A separate poll taken by Survation at the same time shows 53 per cent of likely voters would choose the SNP candidate for their constituency vote – a two percentage point increase since January.
The Scottish Conservatives are on 20 per cent (minus three) and Scottish Labour on 18 per cent (plus one).
A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “Douglas Ross and the Scottish Conservatives have a positive vision to move Scotland on from the division of the past. The SNP only want to drag Scotland back to the arguments of 2014.”