THE Tory Government is sketching out a strategy to counter increasing support for independence with a memo circulated to a select group of senior figures.

The document, which comes from a political consultancy firm closely linked to the Conservatives, looks at ways to delay and avoid a second referendum on independence if the SNP win a majority at the Holyrood election as polls show is likely.

The 21-page memo, written by Hanbury, dismisses an outright rejection of a new vote as “counterproductive” and puts forward a series of suggestions on how to handle the situation.

READ MORE: Leaked memo reveals UK Tories are war gaming to prevent Scottish independence

The most recent public polling on Scottish independence, carried out by Ipsos MORI, revealed support for Yes is now at 58%. It follows a consecutive series of polls showing support for independence as the majority position this year.

Here’s a few things we learned from the leaked memo:

  • Tories could push further devolution as an alternative to independence

The National:

The document suggests handing further powers to Holyrood – calling for “​new accommodation, new constitutional settlement, and cooperation rather than confrontation​”. Ministers were told they could focus on a “four nations, one country” policy by transferring powers on finances or immigration to Holyrood, but the authors say this would be discussed further in another paper. Speaking to BBC Good Morning Scotland earlier former Galloway and Upper Nithsdale Tory MP Peter Duncan suggested UK ministers should not be resistant to delivering further powers. On the subject of immigration powers he said other countries in the world are capable of operating different policies in different areas.

The National:

Despite the push for a new strategy to tackle rising support for independence, the document calls on Tories to consider continuing and even accelerating attacks on the SNP’s record in government. With the SNP set to gain a majority next year and Nicola Sturgeon’s approval rating soaring the authors see the party and its leader as a target in an anti-independence campaign. The memo suggests the Tories should make the party “pay the price” for running the Holyrood government since 2007 and argues a “hard-hitting, attack-focused” campaign against Sturgeon could shift votes.

  • The Tories want votes from Remain-supporting No voters

The National:

Just as polls have shown the Yes side is benefitting from Remain voters who backed No in 2014 but later changed their minds, the memo believes this group would be advantageous for the Union with an effective strategy. The authors say they cannot play solely to Brexiteers - “put simply, there are not enough Leave voters to convert to the ‘No’ side to make up for the movement of Remain voters into the ‘Yes’ camp,” the report said.

To achieve this, the report suggests a campaign to make people believe Scotland could not regain membership of the EU as an independent nation. One option is “co-opting the EU into demonstrating that there is no viable pathway to renewed membership,” they said.

  • The Unionists know they are lacking leadership

The National:

One challenge identified in the memo is the lack of key personnel among those on the No side – they say there is a “vacuum of leadership within the Unionist movement which is leaving the campaign rudderless at a key moment”. They don’t offer a way to deal with this issue, but it could mean seeing new Unionist faces on the scene in the future.