DOWNING Street has been caught out asking Scottish voters how they feel about the prospect of independence.

The SNP’s Tommy Sheppard said it was proof the Tories were “rattled” by rising support for the resurgent Yes movement.

Last month the UK Government’s Cabinet Office instructed Ipsos-Mori to find out “about the general public’s perception of the state of the Union.”

They contacted one of our readers who found it suspicious.

That reader then contacted the pollster to ask if it was legit, and Ipsos-Mori confirmed that it was.

Sheppard questioned why the Government was spending taxpayer’s cash on something that was clearly “political”.

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Downing Street are clearly rattled,” he said.

“Fundamentally though, it’s entirely unacceptable for public money to be used for political purposes like this, the Tory Party should be paying the bill.

“However it says everything about how out of touch the Prime Minister is that she needs a pollster to tell her what the people of Scotland are thinking – and she and her Government are clearly in a state of panic about rising support for independence.

“Only independence will mean the Scottish Parliament gains the powers needed to make Scotland the fairer and more prosperous country we know it can be.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman defended the polling.

“The UK Government regularly contracts research, carried out in different parts of the UK, to understand public perceptions towards government policy,” he said.

Last weekend, a YouGov poll in The Times put support for Scottish independence at its highest point in four years.

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Professor John Curtice told the paper: “These patterns represent a clear warning to the Unionist camp that the pursuit of Brexit might yet produce a majority for independence.”

That poll followed Nicola Sturgeon’s Holyrood call for a second referendum on Scottish independence to be held by 2021.

The National:

Last month, the First Minister told MSPs: “If we are to safeguard Scotland’s interests, we cannot wait indefinitely.

“That is why I consider that a choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered in the lifetime of this Parliament.

“I can confirm that the Scottish Government will act to ensure that the option of giving people a choice on independence later in this term of Parliament is progressed.”

Yesterday, in her speech to the Scottish Tory Party conference in Aberdeen, Theresa May told Sturgeon to respect the result of the 2014 referendum.