A CLEAR majority of Scots now believe that Yes will win the second independence referendum if it is held next year.

On the day after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced she will lay out the terms and timing of a second independence referendum before the end of this parliament, an opinion poll was published showing that most Scots believe independence will be won.

It came just hours after a former Tory minister conceded that, contrary to the Johnson Government’s position, a “strong vote” for the SNP in next May’s Holyrood elections would make it “very difficult to resist” another referendum.

The new poll from Business for Scotland, carried out by Panelbase, found that when “don’t knows” were excluded, 63% of people believe the country would vote for independence if a referendum is held next year.

The study also showed that 62% of people who voted Labour at the 2019 election believe Yes will win indyref2.

With “don’t knows” included, 29% believed the case for the Union would come out on top while 49% said Nicola Sturgeon’s side would win and 22% said it was too close to call.

Business for Scotland also asked respondents if they believe Holyrood should be able to hold indyref2 with or without Westminster’s permission if there’s a pro-independence majority next May.

With “don’t knows” excluded, 60% believed an independent majority of SNP and Greens offered a democratic mandate for indyref2.

Recent polls have put support for independence between 53-55%.

Business for Scotland’s Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp said: “We assume that a Yes majority in the 2021 Scottish elections would therefore lead to an autumn 2021 referendum.

“That 63% think that Scotland would vote for independence is significant, given that is 8% more than the 55% who stated they would support independence in the same poll. What makes this poll so interesting for political analysts is that (including don’t knows) only 29% think the Union would prevail in a new independence referendum and only 35% think that an independence majority after Holyrood 2021 did not constitute a democratic mandate to hold such a referendum.

“Looking beneath the headline figures, this poll actually suggests that support for the Union – and faith that the Union will survive such a referendum – has hit rock bottom and is now a minority position.”

The survey was carried out among 1011 Scottish voters aged 16 and over between August 12 to 18.

Meanwhile, former Tory minister Andrew Mitchell has conceded that Brexit is going to be a real problem for Unionists making the case for the Union and that a second independence referendum could be held.

Speaking on Newsnight on Tuesday, Mitchell, former international development secretary and Tory chief whip, said: “I think the case for independence in Scotland has probably grown in the last year, there’s no doubt about that, but the problem with an independence referendum again, and there will be a push towards that next year, is that no-one knows what the result of independence will be, so it’s clearly in everyone’s interest that before another vote takes place people should know what the effect of independence will be, what the costs will be, what the fiscal arrangements will be.

“Brexit has made the case for the Union more difficult to push in Scotland, and we need to make certain that if there is going to be another referendum – and I think it will be very difficult to resist if the SNP get a strong vote next year – then in that case people need to be aware of what the consequences of dissolving the Union would be before they cast their vote.”