ONLY 4% of the UK’s most senior business leaders believe Scotland will not become independent, with most chief executives and finance directors relaxed about the prospect, according to a dramatic new poll.

The survey carried out by leading research company Ipsos MORI found 95% of the top executives are confident their company would adapt to the consequences of the new constitutional arrangement.

It also revealed 54% of those questioned either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement: “If Scotland became an independent country it would be a significant risk to my company.” Some 22% either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, while 19% had no opinion.

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The survey, published today, was based on interviews with 102 chairmen, chief executive officers, managing directors, chief operating officers, financial directors or other executive board directors. Their companies are all among the UK’s top 500 by turnover.

The research was carried out between February to July this year before the UK Government announced it intended to override the withdrawal agreement it signed with the EU – a move which Brussels has warned increases the prospect of a No-Deal Brexit.

A series of recent surveys have suggested that there is rising support for independence, with one poll saying 55% of Scots now back it.

Some pollsters have found that swing voters have switched believing that an independent Scotland would offer greater future certainty than remaining in Brexit Britain.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier this year put plans to hold a second referendum on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic but announced in her Programme for Government that she would bring forward a draft bill to hold a new vote.

She said the legislation would set out the terms, timing and question in the referendum.

Emily Gray, managing director of Ipsos MORI Scotland, said: “With a Holyrood election looming and recent polls showing that public opinion has tipped in favour of Scottish independence, we are likely to see renewed debate about the economic implications of independence.

“This survey shows that the leaders of Britain’s biggest businesses are relatively relaxed about the potential implications of Scottish independence for their companies, viewing it as something they will adapt to if necessary.”

The mood about independence among business leaders marks significant change from before the 2014 vote and is a welcome further boosts for the Yes side.

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Two weeks ahead of the referendum more than 120 business people in sectors ranging from finance to whisky signed an open letter arguing the business case for independence “has not been made”.

The letter, organised by Keith Cochrane, chief executive of Weir Group and signed by figures included Ian Marchant, former chief executive of the utility firm SSE and Andrew Mackenzie, chief executive of miner BHP Billiton, offered a major boost to the No side.

Welcoming the results of today’s survey a spokesman for Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “This poll of business leaders shows that, overwhelmingly, they are confident their companies will thrive in an independent Scotland – and it also shows that the vast majority believe independence is coming.

“That reflects the views of people across Scotland as a whole, with independence now becoming the settled will of the majority.

People also now believe independence will prove beneficial for the economy, which is no surprise when the alternative is the Tories’ dismal post-Brexit vision which cuts Scotland off from the world’s biggest single market.”