THE SNP could hold Westminster to ransom until it gets indyref2, John Curtice has suggested. 

The Strathclyde university academic predicted that the next General Election in 2024 would deliver a hung parliament, giving Nicola Sturgeon’s party significant influence. 

Though many in the SNP will be hoping for a vote long before then.

Speaking on Times Radio, Curtice said: “There are many many paths down which this independence story could go. But one of the possible paths is, if indeed the SNP is denied a referendum both by the UK Government, and by the UK Supreme Court, that the SNP will go back to its position at one stage which was if we get a majority of the seats at Westminster or Holyrood, we will regard that as a mandate for negotiating for independence.

“And one of the potential problems of there being a hung parliament after the 2024 election is we may be in a situation in which basically the SNP will be able to say, it's either a referendum, or basically we're just going to gum up the Westminster works.”

The pollster said it was now “pretty clear” that Scots currently want to leave the UK.

“We've had 16 polls in a row that put yes ahead. On average, it's 54%, 55% for Yes. This is actually unprecedented. 

“And at the moment if the referendum were to be tomorrow, which of course it won't be, it seems pretty clear that Scotland would vote to leave the United Kingdom.”

He added: “Although those on the Unionist side of the argument are insistent that Scotland should not have a referendum, it looks as though voters are going to turn the election next May into a quasi-referendum on independence. 

“At the moment, basically, 89% of those people who currently say they would vote Yes, say they're going to vote for the SNP and only about 9% of those people who say they would vote No are going to vote for the SNP, and that by the way is very very different from the position in 2011 when the SNP previously won an overall majority. 

“Then nearly two in five opponents of independence voted for the SNP because they thought they provide better government, but in effect, at the moment, it looks as though the SNP are going to ride on the back of their support for independence. 

“As far as that's concerned Brexit's now being done, one of the things that has driven the rise in support for independence is Brexit and it's difficult to believe that is going to be undone very quickly. 

“The second thing however perhaps is rather more contingent. The second thing that seems to have driven it this year, is the perception among some previous No voters that an independent Scotland would have handled coronavirus better than what has been done as part of United Kingdom.

“That clearly in part is a function of the fact that people think - despite arguably the objective evidence - that Nicola Sturgeon has handled the pandemic well and Boris Johnson has done so badly. 

“Now, of course, there is no guarantee, given we are now about to arguably enter perhaps the eight most difficult weeks in the whole of the pandemic, that that perception will remain.”

He pointed to the experience of Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford who previously won plaudits for his handling of the pandemic, but has seen support fall away over the botched circuit breaker.