THE First Minister has welcomed the launch of a new organisation dedicated to advancing the fight for Scottish independence.

Nicola Sturgeon underlined her support for Progress Scotland which has been set up by former SNP depute leader Angus Robertson and polling expert Mark Diffley.

READ MORE: How Progress Scotland is going to make a fresh case for Yes

The new body will help strengthen the case for independence amid the Brexit process and examine which arguments are persuading former opponents – such as the former Daily Record editor Murray Foote and former UK judge on the European Court of Justice Sir David Edward.

Sturgeon wrote on Twitter: “Brilliant new independence initiative headed by @AngusRobertson – and great to hear the changed views on independence of @murrayf00te and Sir David Edward.”

Its launch comes less than two months before the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, and also amid intense and ongoing uncertainty over what sort of Brexit will happen and even if it will happen at all.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland, Robertson argued more research was needed in order to build a majority for independence.

“We are in a time of churn, of change, we don’t know exactly what is happening with Brexit. We’ve had these two big referenda in Scotland, the independence referendum and the Brexit vote, and now is the right time to better understand where is the public with all of that. In Scotland we don’t actually have all that much evidence of all of that ... there is not that much out there that I think can help inform the wider Yes movement. Both in terms of understanding where the public is but also the arguments that are going to help grow support,” he said.

“It’s fantastic that the polls have showed consistent levels of support for independence, up marginally on the referendum, but we need to win and win well. So we need to understand the arguments that will work better.”

READ MORE: How to support independence organisation Progress Scotland

Polling and research will be conducted by Diffley, who served as the lead pollster for the UK Government in the run-up to the independence referendum, with work funded through donations and public subscriptions.

Scots voted for independence by 45% to 55%, but in 2016 backed remaining in the EU by 62% – a result at odds with the UK’s.

Robertson was the SNP MP for Moray until he lost his seat at Westminster in 2017. He stated: “Progress Scotland aims to help prepare the case for Scotland to progress towards independence, keeping pace with the views of the people who make their lives here.

“With the help and support of subscribers, we will research the opinions of people in Scotland and test their appetite to emulate the most successful small countries in the world. We will provide insight and analysis on what is needed to persuade people on the case for Scotland to make progress.”

Diffley said he was taking part in the new project because “Scotland has been my home for nearly 20 years and I have witnessed how the country has changed and continues to change”.

He added: “We are at a time when it has never been so important to listen to the people of Scotland and understand what the public is thinking. I am going to conduct the polls and research for Progress Scotland and I am very excited to see what we will find.

“With so much going on with Brexit and the debate about Scotland’s future, now is the right time to ask people about their opinions, how they are changing and why. It makes sense to try and understand people’s hopes and concerns, especially at this time of change.”

Keith Brown, the SNP’s deputy leader, said the development showed the growing strength of the Yes movement. “I look forward to the expertise the organisation will provide and the contribution it will make to the debate on Scotland’s future, including – crucially – convincing undecided voters of the gains that would be made with an independent Scotland,” he said.

“With so many people now changing their minds in favour of independence, there has never been a better time to make the case.”