Nicola Sturgeon hailed as 'phenomenal' a survey showing that 46 per cent of voters would back independence, compared to 43 per cent who would vote to stay in the UK.
With the removal of those who wouldn't vote or didn't express a preference, 52 per cent of Scots would vote for independence, with 48 per cent against, a new poll by Lord Ashcroft for the Conservative Home website and Holyrood Magazine found.
The survey suggests that independence may be becoming a more attractive option to Scottish voters as the deadline for leaving the EU looms and new Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks up a no-deal Brexit.
Significantly, 60 per cent of those who voted 'Remain' in the EU referendum of 2016 say they would back independence if a vote was held in the next two years, which is the preferred timetable of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
67% of voters would back remaining in the EU if there was a second referendum on that issue.
A significant majority of those polled believe that Brexit makes Scottish independence more likely.
43 per cent said Brexit makes independence 'much more likely', while 19 per cent said leaving the EU made a separate Scotland 'slightly more likely.
17 per cent thought it made no difference, 16 per cent didn't know, 1 per cent thought independence was 'slightly' less likely, and 3 per cent thought independence was 'much less likely' due to Brexit.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This is a phenomenal poll for the independence movement — showing that more and more people think it’s time that Scotland took our own decisions and shaped our own future as a fair, prosperous, outward looking nation.
“Independence means getting governments people in Scotland vote for and that will act in our interests. That stands in stark contrast to recent experience of UK governments incapable or unwilling to act with those interests in mind.
“Meanwhile, the case for independence grows stronger by the day."