THE BETTER Together alliance was straining yesterday as the unionist parties blamed each other for the rise in support for independence.

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie said the Tories and Boris Johnson’s pursuit of a No-Deal Brexit had pushed people into the arms of the SNP.

“The apparent rise in support for independence has occurred on the Conservatives’ watch,” he said.

“Some people seem to be tempted by independence to escape Brexit and the Conservatives cannot be trusted to win them back.

“Boris Johnson’s reckless pursuit of a no deal Brexit has caused great anxiety even though independence would add more chaos onto an already chaotic situation.

“The Conservatives are playing fast and loose with the future of our country. The best way to keep the United Kingdom together is to stop Brexit and it is the Liberal Democrats who alone stand up for the most popular position - remaining in the UK and the EU.”

READ MORE: SNP figures speak out on Scottish Independence poll

A spokesman for the Scottish Tories said they would oppose “every step of the way” any attempt by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP to hold “another divisive referendum”.

“It is time for us all to focus on what matters – growing our economy, and sorting out the mess the SNP is making of our education system and the NHS,” he said.

Labour leader Richard Leonard said that what Lord Ashcroft’s poll showed was that people in Scotland wanted some form constitutional change, not necessarily independence.

He said: “Labour is not a Party that stands for the status quo in the UK: economically, politically or constitutionally.

“We recognise that the UK is still too centralised a state.

“People want to see more decisions being made in Scotland, and our plans to redistribute power across regions and nations within the UK are tapping into the feeling that the UK state needs to be reformed

“Only Labour is campaigning to remain in and reform both the UK and the EU.

“But the real change we need to see in society is also a shift away from austerity to one of investing in our people, our communities and our public services.”

Writing in the Scotsman two weeks ago, Pamela Nash, the Chief Executive of Scotland in Union, repeated her oft made claim that the country “does not want” a second referendum.

Yesterday, with the Ashcroft poll showing 47% of Scots want a vote in the next two years, compared to 45% who don’t, Nash dismissed the survey’s results.

“There have been nearly 100 polls since the first independence referendum that Scots were promised was once-in-a-generation, and 87 per cent of those have found majority support for remaining in the UK.

“This latest poll is clearly a reaction to the sudden upheaval at Westminster, but the challenges that Scotland would face if we broke away from the rest of the UK remain unchanged.

“That includes tax rises and public service cuts which would hit the poorest in society, and scrapping the pound. Whatever your views on Brexit or Boris, independence is not the answer - we are stronger together.”

Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said it was wrong to say that the poll showed a majority in favour of independence.

“Egged on by their leaders, nationalists will get very excited about today’s poll.

“But what it actually shows is that, after years of campaigning, and with what the SNP’s leadership considers their optimum conditions, they still can’t secure a majority for independence.

“It’s not a majority. It’s a majority if you remove ‘Don’t Knows’”.