HOLYROOD faces falling short of an independence-supporting majority after the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, according to a new poll.

The Panelbase survey of 1021 people living in Scotland indicates that the SNP could win 56 seats, seven fewer than in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.

The pro-independence Greens are set to make one gain, taking their number to seven, but this would still leave the independence backing parties two seats short of a majority for a fresh referendum.

The poll commissioned by a Sunday newspaper yesterday puts the SNP on 40% in the Holyrood constituency vote, unchanged from its last poll in March, while the Tories remain the same on 28%,

Labour are up two points at 24%, the Liberal Democrats are unchanged on 6% and Greens are down one at 2%. In the regional vote, the SNP are on 36%, the Tories 26%, Labour 23%, Greens 7%, LibDems 6% and Ukip 1%.

While it suggests the SNP and Greens would be short of a majority, it is also clear that the Tories could form an administration only in the unlikely event that they were supported by both Labour and the LibDems.

The poll suggested support for independence had changed little since March, with 44% for Yes (+1%) and 56% backing No (-1%).

However, there was greater expectation than before that Scotland will soon become independent. A total of 31% (+4%) believe Scotland is likely to gain independence within the next five to 10 years, while 18% (-1%) think it will not happen for 10 or 15.

An unchanged 11% say it will not happen for at least 20 or 30, and 28% (-2%) do not believe it will happen within the next few decades.

A majority, 55% (-3%), believe another independence referendum should not be held in the next few years, while 19% (+2%) want one while the UK is negotiating to leave the EU. A further 26% (-1%) want it when the UK has finished negotiating to leave the EU.

SNP Business Convenor Derek MacKay said: “This is a strong endorsement of our record in government and our positive vision for the country, as people continue to put their trust in the SNP to deliver for Scotland.

“We will continue to drive forward our ambitious plans for Scotland – delivering the best public services anywhere in the UK, creating a fairer and more inclusive society, and working hard to grow the economy and secure greater prosperity.

“While the SNP is standing strong for Scotland, this poll will make dismal reading for the Tories and Labour who continue to fall behind – at a time when both parties are failing to stand up for devolution, and are intent on imposing a devastating hard Brexit, which will destroy jobs and damage living standards.

“The SNP will never take our support for granted, and we will always work hard at Holyrood and Westminster to deliver the very best for Scotland.”

It was not clear when the fieldwork was carried out for the poll, or if this was before or after last week’s events at Westminster that saw SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford suspended for a day and SNP MPs walk out amid anger over just 15 minutes being allowed to debate how the Brexit bill would impact on Scottish devolution.