FRESH poll analysis has shown most Scots believe leaving the UK and joining the EU would be better for the country.

A survey by Redfield and Wilton Strategies asked voters whether Scotland would be more likely to experience a variety of outcomes as part of the Union outside the EU, or as part of the EU and outside the Union.

The outcomes explored included more immigration, higher wages, a stronger economy, lower cost of living and a less polarised public.

Analysis by expert Alex Scholes – writing for Professor John Curtice’s blog What Scotland Thinks –  showed almost every outcome was framed positively for Scotland being an independent country in the EU.

Scholes said the poll, conducted last summer, made it clear Brexit and EU membership would be a key issue at any future independence referendum for Scotland.

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He said: “In any future independence referendum, therefore, the question of Brexit and EU membership would seem bound to play a key role.

“Membership of the EU would be a key part of the pro-independence argument. Supporters of the Union will either have to convince Scots of the benefits of Brexit or that an independent Scotland’s application to the EU is unlikely to be accepted.

“On the evidence of this polling, this might prove a difficult task.”

The biggest gap in responses was seen in “more funding support and subsidies” with 42% of people believing being in the EU and outside the UK would lead to this, while only 19% believed this would occur while being part of the UK.

Scholes, who is a senior researcher at the Scottish Centre for Social Research, said: “This might be discouraging news for unionists who argue that Scotland benefits from the fiscal transfers that occur within the UK.”

Scots were also more likely to say Scotland would have a stronger voice in world affairs as part of the EU (40%) than it would do so as part of the UK outside the bloc.

A total of 40% believed there would be more immigration if Scotland were an EU member than if it remained in the Union.

The poll also showed Scots generally believe there would be higher wages (38%), a lower cost of living (37%) and better environmental policies as a member of the EU.

Smaller gaps were seen on issues such as the NHS. Scots were only eight percentage points more likely to think that being in the EU would result in an improved NHS, and only 10 points more likely to feel that Scotland would be more united outside of the UK and in the EU.

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But Scholes said: “In both these instances this is in part at least because a relatively large proportion of people (27%) think it would make no difference either way.

“Even in the case of the NHS a little under a quarter (24%) feel that things would actually be better as part of the UK.”

Scholes concluded that not only would Brexit be a key discussion point in a second independence referendum, but so would the question of whether Scotland would be accepted into the bloc.

“If there were to be a second referendum on Scottish independence in the near future, not only would the benefit of being in the EU rather than the UK be a key issue, but also whether it is likely that an independent Scotland would be accepted as a member,” he said.

“If not, independence would leave Scotland outside the EU and the UK.

“For the most part voters believe that an independent Scotland would be accepted into the EU. In this Redfield & Wilton poll, 47% said it was ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ that the EU would accept an independent Scotland’s application, while only 27% thought it ‘unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’.

“However, despite this optimism there is no sure way of determining whether an independent Scotland’s application would be successful and if that confidence were to be undermined, independence might well come to seem a less attractive prospect.”

Scholes suggested when voters were asked about the consequences of Scottish independence for the economy and cost of living without EU membership, Scots tended to be “more pessimistic” about the prospect of self-determination.