SUPPORT for Scottish independence has jumped to a record 54% – with an increasing number of Labour voters now willing to vote Yes, according to a new poll.

The Panelbase survey indicates that Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard’s decision to harden the party’s stance against a new referendum has backfired.

As well as Labour voter support for independence increasing from 35% to 37% since Leonard said the party would oppose another referendum, a further 13% of those who voted Labour in the last General Election are now teetering on the side of independence and unsure over which way they would vote.

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It means support for the Union amongst Labour party supporters in Scotland is now just 50%.

The new poll, carried out on behalf of Business for Scotland, comes less than three weeks after the last Panelbase survey which found Labour voter support for independence was at 35%. Considered together, the two polls indicate a growing trend of lost support for Westminster governance amongst Labour voters.

The previous poll also showed growing support for Scottish independence, with 52% of voters saying they would vote Yes in a new referendum.

The new survey of 1070 Scottish residents over the age of 16 found support for independence was 54% to 46%, once don’t-knows were removed. The undecided voters amounted to 7%. When they are included in the statistics, support for independence is well to the fore at 50% to 43%. This relates to 338,000 additional Yes voters compared with 2014, assuming similar turnout levels.

This is the fifth Panelbase poll to ask the independence question in 2020 and those polls have now found support for independence to be 52%, 49%, 50%, 52% and 54%, indicating that the momentum is now with the independence movement.

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The findings also suggest that Leonard’s outright objection to a second independence referendum is not going down well with the party’s supporters in Scotland.

“Future polls will paint a clearer picture, but this may suggest that its leader’s fundamentalist stance against a second referendum is driving voters away from the party and into the arms of the Yes movement,” said Business for Scotland chair Rob Aberdein.

He added: “In the two weeks since the last poll, we have had Labour hardening its opposition to a second referendum, the Scottish First Minister being seen as a safe pair of hands on the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 response compared with Westminster’s response and the Conservatives in Scotland trying to force the First Minister to open up the economy more quickly than the First Minister believes is safe.

“Sir Billy Connolly, one of Scotland’s most iconic celebrities, threw his weight behind the cause of Scottish independence – insisting the prospect of the country becoming a republic is ‘as good an idea as any I’ve ever heard’. We have also had Loyalist/British nationalist protests in Glasgow resulting in violent clashes with the police.”

Aberdein said that, with all that has been going on, it would have been surprising if there hadn’t been a positive move in the poll on support for independence.

He pointed out that 54% is the highest level of support registered by a British Polling Council member since the unsustained spike of 54% in the Survation poll that followed the immediate aftermath of the 2016 Brexit vote.

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“It seems plain that this and other recent polls are showing that independence support is gaining momentum,” said Aberdein. “With the end-of-June deadline for the UK Government to agree an extension to the Brexit transition period approaching, it may be that those who considered independence more favourably immediately following the Brexit vote may come back and help maintain that independence momentum as a hard Brexit becomes more of a realistic prospect in voters’ minds.”

The independence question in the new poll was part of a syndicated survey carried out in unison with another organisation’s research into people’s attitudes to the wellbeing approach in economics. The wellbeing approach is supported by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“If future polls were to suggest that combination influenced some voters to move to Yes, that would still be very good news for the Yes movement,” said Aberdein.

The last Panelbase survey was carried out between June 1 and June 5 for polling blog Scot Goes Pop.

On June 7, following criticism that the Scottish Labour Party had a confused policy, Leonard announced it would go into the 2021 Holyrood elections opposing a second independence referendum.

The party’s executive committee agreed instead to campaign for “home rule, devolution and democratic advance” within the UK.

It said Scotland did not need “more constitutional turmoil” in the wake of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

In response, SNP depute leader Keith Brown said there was “growing and majority” support for independence.