MORE than half of UK Labour Party members back a referendum on Scottish independence being held in the next few years, according to a new poll.

The survey by YouGov, found nearly six out of 10 – 59% – think there should be another indyref vote soon “in principle”.

Just over half – 55% – said the Labour Party should support a referendum being held in the next few years. The poll, carried out at the end of June, also found just over a quarter of members think Scotland should separate from the UK.

It comes as the SNP published a new leaflet outlining the arguments for independence in the context of Brexit and the pandemic.

Michael Russell, the former Brexit secretary who has been appointed as the political director of the party’s independent unit, urged members to share the material widely and harness “positive energy into conversations with the undecided” this summer.

Responding to the poll, SNP MSP Rona Mackay said: “Keir Starmer is completely out of touch with his own party members, who clearly support Scotland’s right to choose our future in a post-pandemic referendum.

“The Labour Party ruined its reputation in Scotland by backing Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit, supporting austerity cuts, imposing Trident nuclear weapons and working hand-in-hand with the Tories in Better Together.

“In May’s Scottish elections, the SNP was returned to Government with a cast-iron mandate to hold a referendum. Yet Starmer – along with his Scottish branch manager Anas Sarwar – continues to side with Boris Johnson to deny the democratic will of the people of Scotland.”

READ MORE: Labour and LibDems vow to collaborate in attempt to win over SNP and Tory voters

The poll of just fewer than 1000 Labour members did reveal differences across the UK. Support for the principle of holding a second referendum was highest in the Midlands/Wales area at 64%.

Last year Welsh First Minister and Labour leader Mark Drakeford said no leader of his party should stand in the way of another vote if that is what the people of Scotland wanted.

In Scotland, three out of 10 members said they supported indyref2 in principle and a quarter said their party should back another vote being held. Just over one in 10 – 11% – said they supported independence.

Earlier this month, Scottish Labour leader Sarwar was urged by his party’s former general secretary to change his opposition to another referendum.

Michael Sharpe, who left the role in December, wrote in a column: “With the constitution still the prism through which Scottish politics is viewed, Scottish Labour’s dismissive stance on self-determination cut the party off at the knees from voters long-since switched to the SNP.”

He urged the party to support a second referendum and campaign for a devo-max option on the ballot.

Labour MSP Katy Clark also contradicted her party leader in June by saying there should be a referendum if Holyrood voted for one. In an interview with the BBC, she said she didn’t campaign for a referendum and didn’t think one should happen now.

She went on: “However if the Scottish Parliament were to vote for one my view is that that should happen… if the Scottish Parliament is saying that there needs to be a referendum then I would argue there should be one.

Starmer is reportedly carrying out a series of visits to communities across the UK this summer, including in Scotland.

Mackay said he has a “lot of explaining to do”.

She said: “Why is he denying our democratic choice?; Why is he woefully failing to provide any real opposition to Boris Johnson?; Why does he want to waste £200 billion imposing nuclear weapons? Why has he turned Labour into a hard Brexit party by ruling out a return to the EU?

“His party in Scotland is condemned to being an irrelevant fringe party if it continues its denial of Scotland’s right to determine our future.”