THE resignation of Boris Johnson will not impact on support for independence as his Brexit legacy will not disappear with him, Scotland’s leading pollster has said.

As the Prime Minister who was dubbed the “best recruiting sergeant” for independence, questions have been raised over whether Johnson’s departure will make a difference to the campaign to leave the UK.

However, Professor Sir John ­Curtice said attitudes towards the ­Union had “not fundamentally changed” and the reason the issue of the constitution is back on the agenda is because of Brexit, not Johnson himself.

SNP depute leader Keith Brown has warned Scotland will be the loser no matter who is the next Prime Minister. He said regardless of leader, ­Scotland’s interests will not be represented in Westminster.

“The events of the past week, months and years of Westminster chaos have shown exactly why ­Scotland needs to forge its own path as an independent nation now more than ever,” he said.

“It does not matter who wins the contest to become the new Tory ­leader. Ultimately, Scotland will be the loser and the next prime ­minister will still not have Scotland’s best interests at heart.”

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He added: “Only with ­independence can Scotland finally forge its own path towards further away from the chaos of the broken, corrupt and shambolic Westminster system, and towards a fairer, wealthier and ­happier ­country.”

On Friday, former First ­Minister Alex Salmond called for a fresh ­independence strategy in the wake of Johnson confirming his intent to stand down.

Writing in Holyrood magazine, he said: “If Johnson was indeed a ­rallying figure for Scottish ­nationalism, then who will do the rallying in the ­post-Boris world?”

Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, told the ­Sunday National that Johnson did matter when it came to the issue of independence – because he was the Prime Minister who delivered Brexit.

He said: “The reason why the ­constitutional question is back on the agenda is because of Brexit, the ­reason support for independence is somewhat higher now that it was in 2014 is because of Brexit, and the ­reason why character of support and the kind of people who support ­independence has changed is also ­because of Brexit.

The National: Prime Minister Boris Johnson, watched by wife Carrie Johnson (centre holding daughter Romy), reads a statement outside 10 Downing Street, London, formally resigning as Conservative Party leader after ministers and MPs made clear his position was

“The question that would face ­Scotland in any future independence referendum is fundamentally different from the one we had in 2014.

“So yes, Boris is absolutely essential – but it is Boris’s legacy and Boris’s legacy didn’t disappear [last week].”

Curtice said a more interesting ­issue would be whether his successor would be a more successful advocate for the Union than Johnson has been.

“The decline in support for the ­Union pre-dates Boris becoming Prime Minister, you can you trace it back to the spring of 2019,” he said. “But he certainly wasn’t very ­effective in increasing support for the Union.”

He added: “His successor might strive to be a more effective ­advocate for the Union that he has striven to be.

“We don’t know whether that is ­going to be the case, not least because none of us have the foggiest who is ­going to get the job.”

Another issue, Curtice said, was whether the impact of last week’s events would be similar to the way in which the Downing Street partygate scandal has triggered lasting mocking of claims about “work events”.

“Does resignation letter become as much a butt of our joke as work events have done in our culture?” he said. “This does work to the disadvantage of the Unionist movement. Those are the big open questions.”

Anthony Salamone, managing ­director of political analysis firm ­European Merchants, said he was sceptical of the idea that a change of Prime Minister will lead to a decrease in independence on its own.

He said: “The conversion to ­independence can often be one way, once a voter has decided to back ­independence from previously not having supported it – whether it is because of Brexit or because of ­Boris Johnson or because of differences in the response to the pandemic – they don’t usually turn back on the ­decision easily.

“Obviously over time with the policies or the leader of the new UK Government could of course have an impact on public opinion on independence, but I wouldn’t expect there to be an immediate change just on the basis of Boris Johnson leaving.”

SALAMONE also pointed out Johnson’s replacement would not move to reverse Brexit and could pursue similar policies.

He said it was “pretty clear” that no future UK Prime Minister – ­including any contenders for the ­Labour Party leadership as well as the ­Conservatives – wanted an ­independence referendum in the near future, including in 2023.

“The question instead is whether whoever the new Prime Minister is would be more willing to discuss the issue of a referendum with the Scottish Government, including potentially agreeing on a referendum – I imagine not in 2023, but some years in the future,” he said.

“On the face of it that is unlikely, but it is possible that the new Prime Minister could be more willing to talk about the issue of a referendum on ­independence in a way Boris Johnson simply never really wanted to talk about it in detail with the Scottish Government at all.

“In any case, a change of leader ­provides an opportunity for a reset between the Scottish Government and the UK Government.

“I think that is an opportunity the Scottish Government should try to take, as at the end of the day the only way to secure a real viable pathway to independence is through the Scottish Government and UK Government working together and cooperating.

“So a more amicable relationship would improve the prospects of their being a referendum which could lead to independence.”

Another scenario which could ­impact on the route map to indyref2, which has been outlined by Nicola Sturgeon, is if the new Prime Minister calls a snap election.

Salamone said he did not think this was likely – but if it did, this was likely to impact on the SNP plan to use the next General Election as a “de facto” referendum.

“I think the new Prime Minister would only call a snap election if he or she thought they would win or ­increase their majority, or ­provide themselves with a mandate in the sense they hadn’t been elected Prime Minister themselves at the last ­election,” he said.

“At the moment at least I don’t see that being likely.”

He added: “I don’t think the SNP leadership is ready to have that de ­facto referendum just yet, they have only set out one of their ­independence papers, and there are more yet to come.

“They have not yet established their renewed case for independence.

“It just shows on one level the SNP had a very detailed planned strategy of how they want to try to manage the issue of a referendum and in part that strategy has been upended by events – that can happen in politics.”

SNP policy convener Toni Giugliano warned the party had to be ready to fight a General Election “whenever it is called”.

“We can’t have a repeat of 2017 when we didn’t expect the snap ­election and lost 21 seats,” he said.

“It is inconceivable, at this stage, that a snap election would be fought on anything other than the single ­issue of independence.

“Or are we saying that we’d need to wait five years after a snap poll before a de facto referendum took place?

“That would not be sustainable, or in Scotland’s interests.”

In response to the comments by SNP depute leader Brown, a UK ­Government spokesperson said “now is not the time” for another ­referendum.

“A decision has been taken by the First Minister to publish a Bill, and the Lord Advocate has made a referral to the UK Supreme Court. UK Government law officers will now consider their response,” they added.