BREXIT is the main issue changing voters’ minds on independence, according to the former SNP depute leader Angus Robertson.

Robertson, who has set up new polling and research organisation Progress Scotland to examine changing attitudes to the nation’s constitutional future, said he believed the question of the UK leaving the EU was behind the move from No to Yes.

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Brexit and the debate around it is one of the – if not the – factors for present-day churn, for changing opinion, for present-day concerns, and that will definitely be having an impact," he said in a radio interview yesterday.

Robertson said he believed there would be a new independence referendum in either the short or medium term, and that whatever the issue of timing, it was important that the Yes movement was prepared.

When asked about the ongoing debate in the Yes movement on when a new vote should be called, he said: “Regardless of people’s views on the timing, I think everybody would agree we need to be best prepared for whenever it happens.

“Whether it happens imminently or more in the medium term, we need to do this important research work starting now.

“And that is exactly what we are doing and I’m very confident that when the gun is fired, and the gun will be fired, because in Scotland the Scottish Government has a mandate for an independence referendum in circumstances such as being taken out of the European Union against its will.”

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He continued: “And we know that support for independence has been going up since the [EU] referendum, and I think when people realise how bad Brexit is, people will be looking for a better alternative, and I think Scottish independence is just that.”

Some 7000 people now follow Progress Scotland on Twitter, just a day after the organisation was launched.

The National:

The First Minister welcomed its launch on Sunday and said she was pleased to hear of people changing their views from No to Yes.

The move 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.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will set out her thinking on a second independence in the coming weeks, and once there is more clarity on Brexit.

Polling and research for Progress Scotland will be conducted by Mark 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.

Diffley wrote on Twitter yesterday: “Delighted to be working with Angus, a hugely respected figure across the political spectrum. My role is to make the research rigorous, objective and high quality and I will ensure my input has that focus. This is about understanding what people think and how views are changing.”

Scots voted by 45% to 55% against independence in 2014, but in 2016 backed remaining in the EU by 62% – a result at odds with the overall UK majority for Leave.

SNP depute leader Keith Brown said the development showed the growing strength of the Yes movement: “With so many people now changing their minds in favour of independence, there has never been a better time to make the case.”