NEARLY 55% of voters would back pro-independence parties if the next General Election was fought as a de facto referendum, according to a new poll.

The exclusive survey, carried out by Find Out Now for The National, found most Scottish voters would vote for the SNP at 52%.

With 2% backing the Scottish Greens and 0.4% voting for the Alba Party, the total secured for the independence side reaches 54.4%.

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Among the Unionist parties, Labour are far out in front with 23%. The Tories are languishing on just 12%, while the LibDems recorded 7%.

Reform, the Nigel Farage-founded party which has seen a surge elsewhere in the UK as the Tories' poll ratings drop, polled at just 3% in Find Out Now survey.

The National:

Just half (52%) of the Scots who voted Tory in 2019's General Election said they would do so again. A total of 23% of 2019 Tory voters said they would back Labour next time, while 11% said they would back Reform.

In comparison, 93% of the Scots who voted SNP in 2019 said they would be backing the party again.

Pollster Mark McGeoghegan said the results would “hearten pro-independence activists who see the next General Election as the last roll of the dice".

But he also warned the numbers had to be treated with caution, as there is “plenty of space for the pro-independence parties to fall short”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (below) unveiled the plan to use an election as a de facto referendum last summer as part of a route map towards another independence vote. 

The National: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon giving her New Year's message. Photo: Scottish Government

However the move has triggered much debate, which has only intensified since the Supreme Court ruled that Holyrood does not have the power to hold a referendum without the agreement of Westminster.

The SNP’s most senior MP, Pete Wishart, warned the de facto referendum will be a “massive gamble” for the independence campaign, but that the only other option is to “give up” and have constitutional deadlock continue.

Fellow SNP MP Tommy Sheppard argued for using the General Election to “tee up” using the next Holyrood vote in May 2026 as an independence vote.

Others have argued that the SNP and Greens should move to dissolve Holyrood early in order to hold a de facto referendum earlier, while some urge more caution and not to “settle” for the plan.

Earlier this month, it was revealed there will be two options on the table for discussion at a special conference being held by the SNP in March.

A draft resolution agreed by the party’s National Executive Committee states that the Scottish Government will “continue all reasonable efforts” to get an agreement with the UK Government over holding an independence referendum.

But it says an alternative must be offered if this continues to be blocked – and sets out the two options which it says are “credible and deliverable”.

The option for contesting the next UK General Election as a de facto referendum states: “If a majority of those voting in the election vote SNP – or if the combined votes for the SNP and any other party with which it has reached a pro-independence agreement in advance of the election constitute a majority of votes cast – we will consider that a mandate to enter negotiations with the UK Government to secure independence.”

The other option is for the SNP to contest the next UK General Election on the issue of securing agreement for a transfer of power to enable the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a referendum.

If the party wins a majority of Scottish seats it will take that demand to the UK Government – but if refused it will contest the Scottish Parliament election in 2026 as a de facto referendum.

A recent readers survey for The National found mixed views on the plans, with 48% backing using a UK General election as a de facto referendum and 38% preferring using the Holyrood election.

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The poll, which is the latest in a series The National has commissioned from Find Out Now, a member of the British Polling Council, surveyed 1094 adults and was carried out between 11-18 January. 

The question asked was: "Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP will fight the next General Election as a “de facto” referendum on independence. Which party will you vote for?"

Responding to the findings, Dr Philippa Whitford MP, the SNP's Scotland spokesperson, said: "The people of Scotland are sick and tired of opposition parties continuous Trump-like denial of Scottish democracy.

"With the Tories and Labour united in their pro-Brexit stance, and the Liberal Democrats just going along with it, it's clear that only the SNP are willing to stand up for Scotland's rightful place in the EU and Single Market – and only independence will deliver that.

"The three UK parties are also united in their denial of Scottish democracy but they should be in no doubt; the longer they block the people of Scotland's right to choose, the stronger our case will become."