ALMOST six in ten Scots would now back independence in a referendum, a new poll shows.

Ipsos-Mori found 58% of those likely to vote in such a ballot would choose Yes.

And almost two thirds - 64% - of Scots say the UK Government should allow another independence referendum to be held within the next five years if the SNP wins a majority of seats in next year's Scottish Parliament elections.

Only a third of people disagree with this.

The findings come from research carried out by Ipsos MORI’s Scottish Political Monitor, run in partnership with STV News and mark the highest level of public support for constitutional change ever recorded.

More than 1000 Scots of voting age were interviewed by phone earlier this month.

The research further reveals the SNP has a "very strong lead" in voting intention for both the list and constituency contests at 47% and 58% respectively.

The Tories are in second place with 19% in each category, and Richard Leonard's Scottish Labour are currently polling at 13% in each.

The Lib Dems managed 8% in both categories and 9% of people said they'd give their regional vote to the Greens.

As for the arguments about the future constitutional settlement, the two "most convincing" for change relate to Scotland and England wanting different political futures and a lack of trust in Westminster to act in Scotland’s interests.

On the other hand, those most persuasive on the No side are linked to emotional appeal about commonality and the perceived risk of independence to jobs and the economy.

Another survey out today from Progress Scotland shows three quarters of people would vote Yes if they are convinced change will boost the country's fortunes.

Emily Gray, managing director of Ipsos MORI Scotland, said: "Our latest poll will put a spring in the step of nationalists but makes grim reading for Unionists.

"The Scottish public have shifted even further towards supporting an independent Scotland, with record numbers now saying they would vote Yes."

She went on: "Our poll suggests that there will be significant public pressure for the UK Government to transfer powers to the Scottish Parliament to hold a second independence referendum if the SNP win a majority at next year’s Holyrood elections."

The SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: "This is a landmark poll which shows that independence has now become the settled will of the majority of people in Scotland.

“Faced with the chaotic and incompetent government of Boris Johnson and a Westminster system which treats Scotland as an afterthought at best, more and more people are deciding that the best way forward for Scotland is as an equal, independent country.

“And if there is a clear majority for pro-independence, pro-referendum parties in next year’s election – as this poll shows there would be by some considerable margin – then no Tory or any UK Government has the right to stand in the way.

“Quite simply, in those circumstances, the Tories would lack any moral or democratic authority whatsoever to try and block the will of the people, and it would not stand."

Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie MSP commented: "This poll also shows support for independence at its highest ever point. It’s clearer than ever that the UK simply isn’t working for Scotland and that we must take our future into our own hands to build a better Scotland.”

And a Scottish Conservative spokesperson added: "In the middle of a pandemic, the last thing that Scotland needs right now is another independence referendum.

"Another divisive referendum would only take the focus away from rebuilding Scotland’s economy, protecting jobs and restoring our schools and hospitals.

"Only Douglas Ross and the Scottish Conservatives have the strength to stop the SNP and move Scotland on from the divisions of the past."