BRITAIN'S leading polling expert has told The National that Unionists are “clearly on the back foot in the constitutional debate" after three polls in the space of a week showed rising support for independence.

A new survey, carried out for the Scot Goes Pop blog by Panelbase between 28 and 31 January, puts support for a Yes vote on a stunning 52%.

That’s five points up on the last Panelbase poll, published in December last year.

That poll comes just hours after Survation published their own findings in a survey. It found increasing support for independence, with a Yes vote at 50%.

Last week a YouGov poll had Yes in the lead for the first time since 2015, by 51% to 49%.

Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University told The National: “On average three polls taken undertaken in the last fortnight put Yes ahead by 51% to 49%. This is the first time that Yes have been ahead in polls of indyref2 vote intention since immediately after the EU referendum.

“Polls undertaken last year consistently suggested that support for independence had increased from 45% to 48-49%, with all of the increase coming from those who voted Remain.

“Now that Brexit has happened it looks as though a few more Remain voters have switched sides – adding to the evidence that the pursuit of Brexit is serving to undermine the foundations of support for Union.

“Meanwhile, the latest polls suggest that this increase in support for independence is now also boosting the SNP’s prospects for next year’s Scottish Parliament election, such that the party might be able to repeat its 2011 success in winning an overall majority.

“At present, at least, Unionists are clearly on the back foot in the constitutional debate north of the border.”