HOLYROOD would have a larger pro independence majority at the next Scottish Parliament election as the SNP and Greens increase their lead over the other parties, according to a new poll.

The latest Panelbase survey for The Sunday Times puts Nicola Sturgeon's party in a commanding position, while the Tories would remain in second place but with a smaller number of seats.

The SNP and Scottish Greens signed a co-operation agreement in August to work together in Holyrood during this parliamentary term.

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Any new pact between the parties, should they wish to renew it, would have to be renogiated forthe next parliament.

The survey found that on the constituency vote it is polling at 47% (+1), with the Conservatives on 20% (-2), Labour on 19% (+1), Lib Dems on 8% (+1) and the Greens unchanged on 4%.

In the regional vote, the SNP is on 41% (+3), the Tories on 21% (-2), Labour unchanged on 18%, Lib Dems unchanged on 8%, the Greens on 10% (+1) and others at 3% (-1).

On that basis the Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, forecasts the SNP would remain one seat short of a majority on 64 seats, with the Greens on ten (+2), giving them a combined majority of 19. The Tories would remain in second with 26 seats (-5), with Labour still on 22 seats, and the Lib Dems up from four to seven seats.

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The poll of 1,781 voters in Scotland between November 9 and 12 came as the SNP prepares for its November conference. 

The next Holyrood election is not due until 2026. However, whether it takes place depends on whether there is a second independence referendum before then and its outcome.

The First Minister wants to hold a new vote on Scotland's constitutional future by the end of 2023 so long as the coronavirus pandemic has passed.

She announced in her programme for government in September that she was instructing civil servants to prepare a new prospectus for independence and she is expected to update the country on the "concrete" measures of her plans to hold a vote in Spring next year.

The Sunday Times poll puts backing for independence up one point to 49% with opposition at 51% (-1). However, less than a quarter (23%) now believe independence is likely within the next five years — a fall of three points.

The results come after the UK government firmly rejected calls for it to support a second independence referendum, seven years after the last vote on the issue.

While the Scottish Government has not ruled out seeking to hold another referendum without UK support, there are concerns it a Holyrood bill to hold a vote may not be regarded as legally competent by the Supreme Court, should a legal challenge be launched to it by the Conservative Government.

The poll comes amid weeks of headlines over Tory sleaze and cronyism which Scottish Tories fear will damage the party north of the Border.

Yesterday the SNP claimed the Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross MP was “knee-deep in the Tory sleaze scandal”. The claim came as Ross referred himself to the Commons standards commissioner for failing to declare thousands of pounds in outside earnings.

According to a report in The Herald, the MP failed to declare £28,218.57 in outside earnings from his second job as an MSP and third job as a football referee. The undeclared income included £6,728.57 from 16 football matches in 2021 and 2020, and £21,490 in a top-up salary from his role as an MSP.

While his outside earnings were well known, the SNP said that, since being elected, Ross has missed multiple votes, events and parliamentary meetings at Westminster and Holyrood to earn money from running the line on a football pitch.

Ross told the newspaper: “Since realising my mistake last week, I contacted the Office of the Register of Interests and made them aware of the situation. All payments have now been declared, including those from my MSP salary that are donated to charities.”