SUPPORT for Scottish independence and the Union is split down the middle as work ramps up to secure a referendum in 2023.

On Tuesday, it was confirmed as part of Finance Secretary Kate Forbes’s spending review that £20 million had been put aside to hold an independence vote in 2023.

Both the SNP and their government collaborators the Scottish Greens had pledged to hold a referendum in this parliamentary term as part of their Holyrood election manifestos.

Toni Giugliano, the SNP’s policy chief, said the Government was delivering on its promise to the people of Scotland.

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The Ipsos MORI poll for STV, carried out among 1000 adults from May 23-29, found support for Scottish independence is at 50% - while an equal percentage want Scotland to stay as part of the UK.

This was five points down from the same polling firm’s November 2021 survey, but higher than other companies' latest estimations for Yes.

On the timing of indyref2, about a third (32%) back holding it by 2023, 18% would prefer it between 2024 and 2026, and 15% think it should be later than that.

Slightly under a third (31%) said there shouldn’t ever be another independence ballot.

Meanwhile, researchers recorded plunging support for the Scottish Conservatives at Westminster – with just 19% of respondents saying they’d back the party in a General Election, down six points on the 2019 result.

The SNP were on 44% (down just one point from the last election), Scottish Labour on 23% (+4) and LibDems on 10%, marking no change. The Scottish Greens were on 3%, up two points.

Elsewhere in the research Nicola Sturgeon remained the leader with the highest satisfaction rating – some 53% were satisfied with her performance as First Minister, down five points on November 2021.

Scottish Labour chief Anas Sarwar struggles with relative anonymity with voters, the poll found, as some 27% of respondents didn’t know enough about him to rate him. Despite this, some 46% were happy with his performance.

More people are dissatisfied with his boss (40%), Keir Starmer, than satisfied (38%) however – while around a fifth don’t know enough about him to offer an opinion.

The National:

Unsurprisingly Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s satisfaction ratings were minimal with just 12% rating his work, and 83% unhappy with him – his lowest ever rating in Scotland totalling a net result of -71.

The SNP were also seen as the most trusted party on a range issues – the most trusted to grow Scotland’s economy among 38% of respondents, to manage the NHS (37%), manage education and schools (36%) and to tackle the cost of living crisis (33%).

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Coming out of the local elections, inflation and cost of living are the clear cut main concerns for Scottish voters, the researchers found.

Around a third (30%) felt the rising cost of living was a key issue for the country, up a whopping 27 points since last winter. Amid this crisis, fewer people said independence or devolution is the most crucial issue. This now stands at 17%, down 10 points.

Emily Gray, the pollster’s managing director in Scotland, said the results over some positive signs for Scottish Labour but the party is not yet seen as authoritative on the core issue of the moment.

“Boris Johnson has never received positive ratings in Scotland, but these latest Ipsos and STV News findings are a new low for the Prime Minister,” she noted.

The National:

“Although the SNP continues to dominate voting intentions, there are tentative signs of a recovery for Scottish Labour, with continued positive ratings for Anas Sarwar, and Labour ahead of the Conservatives on Westminster voting intention.

“However, the scale of the challenge facing Labour is underlined by the fact that after 15 years in government the SNP remains the most trusted party across a wide range of policy areas. This includes the cost of living – which the public say is the most important issue facing Scotland at present.”