UNIONIST parties are hoping to capitalise on a drop in support for the SNP with a tactical voting pact bringing Tory and Labour supporters together, it has been reported.

According to the Sunday Times, Scottish Tories will urge their backers to vote Labour in key constituencies at the next General Election in an effort to “end nationalist dominance”.

The Scottish Tories want their Better Together partners to join them in a “vote smart” strategy which could help Labour win back seats around the central belt.

In return, they hope Labour will help them secure wins in more rural areas.

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The SNP currently have 45 MPs at Westminster – but after a bruising SNP leadership contest, their polling has fallen beneath 40% in several recent surveys. At the same time, Labour are narrowing the gap between the two parties.

As Scottish Labour have just one MP in Scotland, Anas Sarwar’s party is hoping to capitalise on any chance to gain support. Meanwhile Douglas Ross will be looking to prevent a complete collapse in support for his party.

According to a new poll by Panelbase for the Sunday Times, a Westminster election would see 39% back the SNP, Labour on 31%, the Tories on 19%.

That would give the SNP 34 MPs, still 20 more than a predicted 14 for Labour.

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A Scottish Tory source said: “With the election of Humza Yousaf as SNP leader there is clearly an opportunity to end nationalist dominance at next year’s general election and make them pay the price for ignoring Scotland’s real priorities.

“But that requires Scots to vote smart to maximise tactical voting. That means putting normal party politics to one side and voting for the candidate most likely to beat the SNP.

“That means, for example, Conservative voters in Glasgow backing Labour, while Labour voters in Aberdeenshire vote for the Conservatives.”

Professor John Curtice spoke on the poll’s findings – as it became the second poll in as many days to find stable support for independence but falling support for the SNP.

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“SNP parliamentarians at Holyrood and Westminster overwhelmingly backed Mr Yousaf for the party leadership,” said Curtice.

“But unless he turns around his party’s fortunes soon, they may begin to wonder whether they made the right call.”

He went on to say that the results showed “the loyalty of Yes supporters to the SNP is being eroded”.