SCOTLAND will become an independent country, according to the views of thousands of people questioned throughout the UK in a major academic study.

North of the Border, 69% of those quizzed thought Scotland will at some point leave the Union, while that was also the view of 59% of those who took part in the research project in England and Northern Ireland. In Wales 54% reached the same conclusion. The findings are from a survey of more than 7,000 voters across the UK by a team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh and will send shock waves through the anti-independence parties who campaigned to persuade Scots to stay in the UK. September 18 last year saw 55% to 45% of Scots vote to remain in the Union.

But the referendum also sparked a renewal of grassroots political activity and interest and the study found that legacy was continuing to impact on the level of engagement Scots have with politics.

It found 76% of people in Scotland said they will vote in May’s election, compared to 63% in England, 64% in Wales and 55% in Northern Ireland.

The contrast was bigger among young people, with 65% of 18 and 19-year-olds in Scotland saying they will vote, compared to just 34% in England.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP said: “This research, showing that people in Scotland are highly motivated to vote in this coming election, is a positive legacy of the referendum and Scotland’s experience of being able to choose our own future.

“The fact that 65% of 18 and 19-year-olds in Scotland plan to vote compared to just 34% south of the Border is proof of the fantastic spirit of engagement that lives on after last year’s historic vote.

“It is also positive that the role of the Scottish Parliament has strengthened, with nearly 60% of people believing it influences how the UK is governed. Now people are determined to use their vote to elect MPs who will put their interests first – which is why poll after poll has shown the SNP riding high.”

Despite the views on constitutional issues, those surveyed did not believe “ordinary people’’ had a big influence on how the UK is run.

Politicians, parties, businesses, trade unions and local councils are seen to hold greater influence on the running of the country.

The researchers also interviewed party campaigners, civil servants and politicians, including at least one member from each political party who sat on the Smith Commission on Scottish Devolution.

The respondents who took part in the commission talks said their emphasis was on creating a good political solution in a tight timescale, but that “they may have underestimated the public appetite for continued constitutional discussion’’.

The survey also found that satisfaction with the UK’s current constitutional arrangements varied. In England, 43% believed their country received less government spending than it was due while the figure is 44% in Scotland, 37% in Northern Ireland and 68% in Wales.

The researchers found that there was majority agreement that a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European

Union (EU) should be decided by a majority of votes across the UK, instead of individual countries being allowed to veto the result.

In Scotland, 45% supported a proposal that each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would have to vote in favour of an EU exit for it to happen. In the other countries, support was lower.

A majority of people would like all devolved administrations to have control over the same powers, the study found while most people said that not enough time has been spent discussing constitutional issues.

Dr Jan Eichhorn, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science, said: “People across the UK show an appetite for discussions about how the country should begoverned. Seeing a lasting, positive effect on political engagement in Scotland beyond the referendum is encouraging and shows that people can be activated politically. However, it is worrying to see how little people think they can actually make a difference.’’

Dr Daniel Kenealy said: “Despite Nicola Sturgeon’s call for an EU referendum veto by the four nations of the UK, and First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones’s support for the idea, it remains unpopular with people across the UK. This shows us that on some issues people across the UK still think in terms of a single political unit making big decisions.’’

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “With Labour flirting with the SNP in the hope it gets them into government, and the Lib Dems dead in the water, it’s no surprise people fear the constitutional question isn’t yet over.

“The Scottish Conservatives are the only party completely committed to the UK and the economy.”

A Labour spokesman said: “People in Scotland, who voted yes and no, expressed a desire for radical change. That is exactly what Labour will do.”